We’ve been hearing more on Univision CEO Joe Uva resigning his post, effective 4/2 at the top Spanish-language media company. We had heard Texas Pacific Group (TPG), a major shareholder of Univision, had Uva fired. TPG has reportedly been a strong critic of Uva since he joined and has finally convinced the board not to renew his contract, which was about to expire. Two months ago, TPG recommended veteran media Executive Randy Falco, for the COO position. We hear it’s likely he will become the new CEO.
Now, it has been reported in HispanicAd.com that Uva was blown out by Televisa, which is once again a major shareholder in Univision. Televisa — Mexico’s largest media company — paid $1.2 billion for a 5% stake (plus debentures for a possible future expansion to a much larger stake) in Univision in late December. The investment allowed Televisa to reclaim an ownership stake in Univision and for Univision to extend and expand its important contract for Televisa programming. The Televisa investment helped Univision refinance some of its debt taken on in its 2007 leveraged buyout. That’s when media mogul Haim Saban, and private equity groups Providence Equity Partners, Madison Dearborn Partners, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Texas Pacific Group took over the company.
Televisa is a family company. Emilio Azcárraga Jean (pictured), son of the deceased founder, Emilio Azcárraga Vidaurreta, runs the company. Uva was put in charge of Univision by the private equity guys who beat out Emilio Azcárraga Jean in the bidding war for the company. The private equity investors had to give at that time Televisa $3 billion dollars for their shares, which they are now using to buy back into the company. Televisa provides much of the programming that makes Univision the number one Hispanic Television network in the US.
More from HispanicAd.com’s Jose Cancela: “For all those who doubted about who was in charge at Univision after the extension of the Program License Agreement (PLA) last year, the answer should now be crystal clear. While Haim Saban may hold the title of Chairman, Emilio Azcárraga Jean holds the title of Golden Ruler, as in he who holds the gold rules. The gold in this case was the PLA which Broadcast Media Partners BMP (the consortium that owns Univision) wanted desperately to extend beyond 2017. But Emilio was not about to give that extension without first extracting a few demands. Joe Uva’s position was one only of them. So let’s go back in time, and put the story-line into context.
You see, before any progress could be made about extending the PLA, Emilio first wanted Ray Rodriguez out of the way. As President of Univision, Ray had long been a thorn in Emilio’s side, as he felt Ray never gave Televisa the proper respect it deserved for the ratings success that Televisa programming brought to the Univision program grid.
Saban himself also saw Ray as a much needed [ally], especially after having paid almost 14 billion dollars for Univision and whose purchase came with a lawsuit that challenged the PLA agreement. With that lawsuit hanging over Univision’s future, Saban needed Ray at his side to help him fight off Televisa who was looking to blow up the PLA agreement. As we all now know, Televisa lost that court battle.
The old expression that good things come to those that wait, was a perfect motto for Emilio, as far as he was concerned it would be only a matter of time before Saban came knocking at his door with Ray’s ‘resignation’. After all, it was Televisa programming that kept Univision’s prime time ratings through the roof. Not to mention the fact that original productions commissioned by Univision, were not only costly, but many of them failed.
With a highly leveraged company and a recession that was tanking ad revenues, Saban was ready to go see Emilio. But first he had to deal with Ray, and so he put together a great severance package along with a great send-off party; Ray was gone.
From various accounts of individuals who were involved in those early meetings to discuss the PLA extension to 2025, it was very clear that Emilio wanted more than just equity and better terms for the PLA, he wanted the opportunity to show that his team could run the Univision network much more effective and efficiently. While Saban was hesitant to accept, he was in no position to negotiate.
First up was the Univision news division, which is now headed up by long time Televisa/Azcarraga confidant Isaac Lee. Out was 25 year Univision veteran and Ray Rodriguez protégé Alina Falcon, and in the weeks following Lee’s arrival, out were most of Alina’s senior lieutenants.
Which brings us to Joe Uva, if Joe’s contract was going to be renewed it would have happened months ago, but as we all know, it is less costly when someone resigns as opposed to letting them go. Reality is that Emilo had been in Saban’s ear about Uva since day one, so this to, has now come to pass.
The next few weeks will be telling as Univision decides what to do with their AM radio platform, who gets named to head the radio group and who replaces Uva.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Emilio Azcárraga Jean may have been disappointed back in 2007 that he and Bill Gates couldn’t put together a winning bid for Univision — but it looks like time was on his side and he is still a young man. The 42-year-old has long sought to expand his family’s Mexican media empire north of the border. Had he won the 2007 battle he might have faced financial stress during the recent US recession, but instead he got to be the cash-heavy savior of Univision. Now we wait to see whether the media mogul, who lives much of the time in Miami and whose wife and children have US citizenship, will follow the example of Rupert Murdoch and become a US citizen so he can expand his role at Univision.