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Univision and Televisa seal deal to extend partnership

December 20, 2010 |  2:04 pm

Just in time to ring in the new year together, two Spanish-language media giants have tied the knot on their long-term strategic partnership.

On Monday, New York-based Univision Communications and Mexico's Grupo Televisa said they had wrapped up a deal announced in October to extend a programming licensing agreement that will keep Televisa's immensely popular telenovelas on Univision's networks for at least another 15 years. Their previous programming agreement would have expired in 2017.

Emilioazcarraga As part of that deal, Televisa -- Mexico's largest media company -- gave Univision $1.2 billion in exchange for a 5% stake in Univision. The investment allowed Televisa to reclaim an ownership stake in Univision, the U.S. broadcasting company that Televisa's founder, Emilio Azcárraga Vidaurreta, helped launch in 1961.

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.

Bondholders wanted to make sure that Univision would have a steady supply of some of its most popular shows. Univision also assumed control of the pay television operation TuTV, which previously had been a joint venture between the two companies.

As part of the arrangement, Televisa will let Univision run its programming on the Internet in the U.S. and on other digital platforms. Televisa also has rights to air Univision shows on its TV networks in Mexico.

Three Televisa officials -- Emilio Azcárraga Jean, its chairman and chief executive; Alfonso de Angoitia, its executive vice president; and Enrique F. Senior Hernández, a Televisa board member and managing director of Allen & Co. -- join Univision's board, which will increase in size to 20 members.

"With a rapidly growing Hispanic population and increasing success of our content in the United States, this is a very appropriate moment in time to expand our content offerings and extend our agreement with Univision,” Azcárraga Jean said in a statement.

 -- Meg James

Photo: Televisa CEO Emilio Azcárraga Jean. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times