The market for stock offerings is hot. But the mood around media companies is decidedly cool.
On the eve of the Trump inauguration, there's rising speculation that Univision Holdings, the country's largest Spanish-language media company, may be getting closer to setting a date for its much-awaited initial public offering.
As investors know full well, the market has been sizzling. The S&P 500 index has surged nearly 6% since election day, a run that lifted the benchmark to a 9.5% gain for 2016.
Univision's private equity owners -- Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, TPG Capital, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Israeli billionaire Haim Saban -- would like nothing more than an IPO that might allow them to begin recouping their investment. (Univision and TPG Capital declined comment for this story. Madison Dearborn, Providence Equity and Thomas H. Lee did not immediately return requests for comment.)
A successful offering could erase much of the debt financing costs that continue to burden the company. Univision's long-term debt was $9.06 billion at the end of September, down from $9.31 billion at the end of 2015, yet it remains high, a product of being taken private in March 2007 in a $13.7 billion deal that had the unfortunate luck of taking place just before markets tumbled in the mortgage-backed securities crisis of 2008.
But these are strange times for media companies.
Media properties including Time Warner's (TWX) CNN, Comcast's (CMCSA) NBC News and, more recently, privately held BuzzFeed News, are under broad attack from the incoming administration. Print publications Vanity Fair and The New York Times (NYT) also have drawn fire from the president-elect.
While politicians and journalists have long sparred, President-elect Donald Trump has made it clear that given a reason, he'll strike back. Holding his first press conference since the election, Trump on Wednesday called BuzzFeed a "failing pile of garbage" for publishing a 35-page dossier of uncorroborated allegations of information said to have been gathered by the Russian government. He added that BuzzFeed "will suffer the consequences."
Trump also took a swipe at Time Warner's CNN, which didn't publish the dossier but instead broke the news that Trump last week received a summary of its contents from U.S. intelligence officials. Though dozens of news organizations matched CNN, Trump lashed out at the network's Jim Acosta at the press conference, exclaiming that "your organization is terrible. ... You're fake news."
Further afield, Trump was said to have misgivings last week about Time Warner's proposed $85.4 billion sale to AT&T, a transaction that needs antitrust approval. Additionally, the president-elect is still said to be peeved at NBC News for its leak of the now infamous Access Hollywood tape with Billy Bush. Conversely, Fox News, the crown jewel of 21st Century Fox (FOXA) , appeared to be the beneficiary of Trump's general war reporters as illustrated in a tweet about his renewed friendship with Fox Executive Chairman Rupert Murdoch.
So where does that leave Univision and a possible IPO?