Univision Fails to Find a Buyer
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Here's a footnote to a story we learned last week. The auction for the Spanish language media company Univision has not gone as well as planned. Only one group of investors met last week's deadline for bids, and that offer was rejected as too low.
Second-bid's status is unclear, and the low bids underline the risks in a changing market. NPR's Felix Contreras reports.
FELIX CONTRERAS reporting:
Univision was asking $40 a share for the company, which would be approximately $13 billion. But the bids have disappointed them, coming in around $35 a share, or roughly $10 billion, according to published reports.
Why were the bids so low for a media company that, by all accounts, should expect continued growth, based on the expanding Latino population? Financial analyst Philip Remek says one reason is that the growth may be in the wrong places.
Mr. PHILIP REMEK (Financial Analyst): The bigger growth in Spanish language media lately has been in the more emerging markets - places you wouldn't necessarily think of as centers of Hispanic population - as Hispanics spread across the U.S., while Univision is concentrated in the biggest markets that are relatively more mature.
CONTRERAS: Remek also says the two interested buyers may have considered other market forces, such as how the Internet is pulling advertisers away from traditional media, the oversupply of Spanish language radio, as general market companies invest in Spanish language. And how will any Congressional action on immigration affect the Spanish language audience. Will there be more or less?
Current industry estimates indicate less than 200 of the top 300 advertisers spent significant amounts on Spanish language media, which also figures into Univision's potential for growth, says analyst David Joyce.
Mr. DAVID JOYCE (Media Industry Analyst, Miller Tabak + Co.): So as more of corporate America understands the power of the U.S.-Hispanic demographic and how they need to market to them, more advertisers will come to Univision and those incremental advertisers will force the prices for the ad inventory up, and that would help the revenue and earnings of Univision going forward.
CONTRERAS: Joyce also says the reason for the low bids may be because the equity firms involved don't have the long-range perspective that Univision CEO and founder Jerry Perenchio had 15 years ago when he bought the network.
Mr. JOYCE: He did have a great foresight to put this together and he latched onto it - a trend before it started emerging.
CONTRERAS: Will Perenchio negotiate on the price of Univision, or will he pull down the For Sale sign? It's anyone's guess, but all the attention has made it as compelling as the World Cup matches currently running on the network.
Felix Contreras, NPR News, Washington.
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