Investment group acquires majority control of Univision

(Image: Handout)

Spanish-language television network Univision has been acquired by an investment firm led by a former financial executive for Viacom’s MTV Networks.

ForgeLight, founded by former Viacom Chief Financial Officer Wade Davis, in partnership with Searchlight Capital Partners has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Univision, the companies announced early Tuesday morning.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

As part of the acquisition, Davis will be promoted to Chief Executive Officer of Univision, which will continue to license programming from Grupo Televisa, a Mexican mass media conglomerate that continues to hold a 36 percent sake in Univision.

“Univision has a proven track record of success in reaching and serving the U.S. Hispanic community, who represent 1 in 5 Americans and growing,” Eric Zinterhofer, a founding partner of Searchlight Capital, said in a statement on Tuesday. “The strong support of Televisa, a premier content producer in the Spanish speaking world, and Wade Davis, a proven executive in areas which include advanced advertising and digital distribution, further enhances our confidence in Univision’s bright future.”

Davis said he was “honored” to partner with the two companies to help push Univision into its “next phase.”

Univision has struggled in recent years since a separate group of investment firms took the media company private, which saddled it with debt at a time when Comcast started investing heavily in expanding its competing Spanish-language network Telemundo.

Univision has fought back over the last year, securing much-coveted rights to international soccer games, capturing 50 percent of overall soccer viewership in the United States among English and Spanish-speaking viewers and a whopping 80 percent of sports viewership during prime-time viewing hours, an executive told media trade publication The Drum.

The company’s bet on sports transcends its legacy broadcast network: Early last year, it rebranded its Univision Deportes (Univision Sports) network as TUDN (Tu Deportes Network, Your Sports Network) and launched a digital-only streaming sports offering aimed at cord-cutters.

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