The auction for Spanish-language media company
is in disarray.
The process to sell the Los Angeles company was thrown into further turmoil late Wednesday evening as word emerged that one bidding group had lost the support of two more private equity groups it was teamed with.
A group headed by Mexico's
has now lost the support of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and the Blackstone Group, according to people familiar with the situation. Carlyle Group was also previously part of the bidding consortium but squabbled with Televisa over deal points and abandoned the process earlier this week.
The latest twist was first reported by
The New York Times
One investment banker close to the situation said that the departures could present major problems for the Televisa group, which now includes Venezuelan programmer Venevision, Bill Gates' Cascade Investment and Bain Capital. "It's probably too late for them to bring in new money," that same person said.
That might open a window of opportunity for the other bidding group. That consortium is made up of former Fox Family Channel owner Haim Saban, Providence, Madison Dearborn, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Texas Pacific Group. That group bid in the neighborhood of $35 per share, an offer that was reportedly rejected by Univision.
Bids were originally due Tuesday, but conflict within the Televisa group have led to a delay. Univision and UBS, the bank overseeing the process, are said to be willing to wait for Televisa and company to get their ducks in a row.
In the meantime, Univision shares were down 4% on Thursday after dropping significantly yesterday. At last glance shares traded at $32.50 after recently trading higher than $36.50 in early June.
The situation raises the possibility that Univison might decide to call the whole thing off. Another possibility is that strategic interests in the media world start to smell blood and throw their huge hats into the shrinking ring -- possibly in tandem with one of the bidding groups.
And other issues have bubbled to the surface in recent days. Both bidding entities may face tough regulatory scrutiny regardless of how the auction shakes out. Under U.S. law, Televisa may not hold more than a 25% ownership stake in the company because of foreign media-ownership restrictions. Those restrictions forced Televisa and Venevision leadership to team up with U.S.-based partners in the first place.
Meanwhile the other bidding group could also encounter Federal Communications Commission heat on concentration concerns, given their various sizable media holdings. Partner Providence, for example, was recently part of a group that bought Dutch media company VNU, which in turn owns media measurement company Nielsen. Other TV networks are already said to be lobbying against such a tie-up, citing obvious conflict of interest issues.
Televisa also made a point last week of noting that it believes it has the right to terminate a programming contract with Univision that runs through 2017. The two sides are locked in pending litigation over royalty payments.