Mexico has been in the news in a big way recently, with reports involving both of the country’s major TV networks, Televisa and TV Azteca. The former has been talked about because of its partial merger with the U.S.-based Univision. The latter has made headlines for a controversy involving TV Azteca’s Ricardo Salinas Pliego, a 65-year-old tycoon who is said to be worth U.S.$13 billion.
A front-cover story, followed by three-quarters of a tabloid page inside, is what The Wall Street Journal reserved for Mexico’s Salinas Pliego story in its Friday, April 9, 2021 edition. Salinas Pliego controls TV Azteca, which, according to the WSJ, “ran negative stories about ING,” the Dutch insurer that was targeted by “the Mexican tycoon.”
According to the WSJ, and other publications in the U.S., the financial operations involved many millions of dollars and implicated fertilizer company Fertinal, Pemex (the state-owned oil company), ING, a government agency called IPAB (which is in charge of the banking deposits’ insurance sys-tem), and two Belgium-based shell companies.
On the other side of Mexico City, the country’s broadcast and media giant Grupo Televisa, on April 13, 2021, combined its television content business with Univision Communications, the largest Spanish-language TV network in the U.S. The new company is now called Televisa-Univision.
With this merger, Univision saves $300 million a year on royalties for Televisa’s content and Televisa gets more value with investors. According to some reports, Univision will place its FTA networks Univision and UniMás, nine cable channels, 61 FTA local stations, 58 local radio stations, digital assets like the streaming service Prende TV, and its production unit into the newco.
For its part, Televisa will place four FTA networks in Mexico, 27 cable channels, the film distributor Videocine, the on-demand video subscription service Blim TV, the Televisa brand, the production unit, the content sales/distribution arm, and its content library into the new company. The deal valued those Televisa assets at $4.8 billion.
However, Televisa will keep lots of things out of the merger, including all real estate, all of its local TV stations in Mexico, the telecommunications company Izzi, the subscription TV service Sky, the betting business Play-city, the editorial business, the distributor Intermex, Azteca Stadium, and various football (soccer) clubs. The Azcarraga family, which controls Televisa, will keep all news content production in Mexico.
Televisa received $3 billion for its assets pledged in the newco, plus $1.45 billion in Univision equity, all financed by Univision taking on $2.1 billion in debt.
Televisa is now the largest shareholder in the newco, with a 45 percent stake. Univision announced pre-liminary financial data for the first quarter of 2021, currently estimating net revenues of $634 million, a decrease of about four percent from $660 million in the same period a year prior.
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