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Univision sets sights on $1B IPO

James Fontanella-Khan

Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcaster in the US, has hired bankers to raise more than $1bn in an initial public offering that could value the company at as much as $20bn including debt, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank will lead the IPO, said people informed about the listing, which is expected to be one of the largest in the media sector in several years.

Susan Goldman | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The consortium of private equity groups bought Univision for $12.3bn in 2007, just before the financial crisis ended the buyout boom, has repeatedly explored options to sell the company but has never completed a deal.

The decision to tap the market comes as Univision consolidates its position as one of the largest US primetime broadcasters for 18- to 34-year-olds, going head to head with English-language broadcasters ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.

Univision has grown alongside the US's Hispanic community, which between 2000 and 2010 grew 43 per cent to 50m and is forecast to reach about 106m in 2050, according to the latest US Census Bureau population projections.

The Hispanic population's rapidly increasing spending power has drawn a swath of new advertisers to Univision. Procter & Gamble, DirecTV and Verizon are some of the largest, according to Kantar Media.

The success of Spanish-language television, which features a mixture of traditional telenovela soap operas, long-running quiz shows and more recently original movies produced at Univision's studios in Miami, stands in contrast to the continued weakness of some English-language media.

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Univision has occasionally beaten all its English-language rivals in primetime ratings, according to industry data.

Saban Capital took Univision private with Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Thomas H. Lee Partners and TPG Capital.

Televisa, the large Mexican broadcaster, invested $1.2bn in 2010 for an initial 5 per cent stake and options and debentures that could convert to take its holding to as much as 40 per cent, subject to US regulatory approval.

Univision generated revenue of nearly $3bn in 2014, with operating income of $336m. However, it is saddled with total debt of nearly $10bn, according to Capital IQ.

Univision, Goldman, Deutsche and Morgan Stanley all declined to comment on plans for an IPO.

Reuters first reported that the company had hired banks for a listing that could come in the second half of the year.