The deal for Univision( UVN) may be done, but anger about the way the auction process was handled lingers.
Two shareholder lawsuits against the large Spanish-language broadcaster have already popped up, claiming it breached fiduciary duty when it agreed to sell itself last week. The lawsuits were first reported by
The Associated Press.
Univision couldn't be reached for comment on Monday.
Meanwhile, sources say that
and its buyout team -- the second-place finishers in the auction -- were prepared to make a significantly higher bid for Los Angeles-based Univision but never got the chance.
Univision last Tuesday agreed to a $12.3 billion, $36.25-a-share acquisition by a group including Madison Dearborn, Thomsas H. Lee Partners, Providence Equity, Texas Pacific and mogul Haim Saban.
The losing bidders included Televisa, Bill Gates' Cascade Investment and Bain Capital. That group initially bid $35.75 per share after suffering a number of defections by other equity partners.
What remains unclear a week after the deal was announced is why Univision would shut the door on a higher bid if one were in the works. Ending an auction before everyone is done bidding seems counterintuitive, at best.
Whether or not that actually happened, shareholder displeasure is evident in the lawsuits. According to the
, both suits were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court and seek class-action status.
One suit seeks to block the sale on grounds that it occurred "at a price that is not fair and equitable" to shareholders. It seeks unspecified damages and says the Univision board put its own personal interests and those of the successful bidder above shareholders and didn't hold an "active and open auction" for the company, according to the
For its part, Televisa is steamed, as its recent public comments suggest. Sources say that the company is weighing a number of options, including starting its own network in the U.S.
Televisa issued a statement last week in which it said it is disappointed about the outcome of the auction.
"Notwithstanding our repeated offers to discuss all aspects of our proposal including price, Univision and its advisers refused to enter into any discussions with us after we submitted our initial bid," Televisa said. "Given this action by Univision's board, Televisa has a number of alternatives it is considering." Televisa said also that it will "vigorously pursue its options to build its potential in the growing U.S. Hispanic marketplace."
Another issue is the long-simmering lawsuit between Televisa and Univision. The two sides have a programming output deal that extends through 2017. Televisa charges that it has not been compensated properly by Univision for some programming, a dispute that has gone on for some time.
The programming lawsuit could give the new owners a migraine, especially if Televisa management is further embittered by the way the process was handled, as clearly appears to be the case.