Why Does Univision Want FCC Approval For A Mexican Move?


In June 2018, rumors were rampant that Univision Communications‘ would be selling some or all of its radio stations. The chat proved to be unfounded, and now Univision is doubling down on its ownership of AMs and FMs serving Hispanics across the U.S.

How so? It is seeking FCC approval to have one of its many wholly owned subsidiaries to take on direct ownership of Univision Radio. This subsidiary happens to be based in Mexico, and as such a foreign ownership ruling has been requested of the Commission.

Univision has dozens of subsidiaries, as this Securities and Exchange Commission page shows.

All but three of these subsidiaries are incorporated in the U.S. These entities, Vision Latina S.A. de C.V.; UNLP Mexico, S.A. de C.V.; and Notivision S.A. de C.V.; are incorporated in Mexico.

It is Notivision that has been earmarked by Univision to serve as the primary entity involved in a proposed intra-corporate restructuring relating to Univision Radio.

Under Univision’s plan, Notivision would acquire a direct 21% interest in Univision Radio.

That’s totally fine: Commission approval of the proposed acquisition of this interest by Notivision is not required under a January 2017 ruling that permits foreign investors to own up to 49% of Univision’s equity and 49% of its voting interests — including up to 40% of its equity and voting interest to be held by Televisa and its affiliates.

However, Univision explains in a redacted petition filed Wednesday with the FCC, “absent the relief requested herein, as a result of the restructuring, third-party foreign investment in Univision and all of its subsidiaries would be limited to 28%, below the previously approved 49%.”

Univision is therefore requesting that the FCC undertake a limited modification of the 2017 Ruling by authorizing foreign ownership of up to 70% of Univision’s equity and voting interests — solely so that Notivision can hold the proposed stake in its radio division “without otherwise constraining Univision’s ability to take on the level of third-party foreign investment authorized in the 2017 Ruling.”

Why is Univision making this move? “I think it’s just Univision maximizing its options on these waivers,” a source close to the matter tells RBR+TVBR. “This will have no impact to Univision’s operations.”

A group of six private equity investment firms possess majority ownership of Univision. Five of the groups formed a consortium in 1997 to acquire the company — a transaction designed to prep the company for a profit-generating sale that has yet to transpire.

Ownership of Univision is broken out as follows:

  • TPG Global LLC holds 27.3% of the voting interest and 20.6% of Univision equity.
  • Madison Dearborn Partners holds 20.5% of the voting interest and 18.9% of Univision equity
  • Providence Equity Partners holds 19.5% of the voting interest and 19% of the equity
  • Saban Capital Group holds 10.3% of the voting interest and 7.1% of the equity
  • Thomas H. Lee Partners holds no voting interest but possesses 19% of the equity
  • Glade Brook Capital Partners in 2014 obtained 3.2% of Univision’s voting interest and 2.2% of its equity