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Mexico’s Televisa says to merge content with Univision in new media company

A technician holds a microphone of Mexican broadcaster Televisa before a soccer match at Universitario stadium in San Nicolas de los Garza

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Grupo Televisa, Mexico’s largest broadcaster, will combine content with U.S. broadcaster Univision for the creation of a new Spanish-language media company with plans to launch a global streaming platform, Televisa said on Tuesday.

The new company, called Televisa Univision, will feature content from both broadcasters, including series, movies, sports and signature soap operas known as “telenovelas,” Televisa said, adding that it will be the “largest Spanish-language media company in the world.”

The transaction was partially financed by a $1 billion Series C preferred investment led by the SoftBank Latin American Fund, with participation from ForgeLight, Google and The Raine Group, Televisa said in a press release.

Televisa, which will be the single largest shareholder in the new company, would contribute its content assets for a total value of $4.8 billion. Univision, the largest Spanish-language U.S. broadcaster, will pay $3.0 billion in cash, $750 million in Univision common equity and $750 million in Series B preferred equity, with an annual dividend of 5.5%.

“This strategic combination generates significant value for shareholders of both companies and will allow us to more efficiently reach all Spanish language audiences with more of our programming,” said Emilio Azcarraga, executive chairman of the Televisa board of directors, in a prepared statement.

Televisa-Univision is planning to launch a global streaming platform for the “significantly underserved Spanish-language market” in early 2022, the statement said, competing with other major companies like Netflix.

“The objective of this transaction is to create a player that competes globally in the streaming market,” a Televisa spokeswoman told Reuters.

Televisa already distributes exclusive content to Univision, including its telenovelas, for the broadcaster’s Spanish-speaking viewers in the United States.

Searchlight Capital Partners and ForgeLight completed a majority stake purchase of Univision at the end of last year. Televisa maintained its minority stake and its programming license agreement with the company.

Televisa will remain the largest shareholder in Televisa-Univision with a 45% equity stake. It will continue to own and operate izzi Telecom, Sky Mexico, and other businesses, as well as its main real estate production facilities, the broadcasting licenses and transmission infrastructure in Mexico, it said.

Univision chief executive Wade Davis will lead the new media company. The transaction, expected to close this year, will be subject to regulatory approvals in the United States, Mexico and Televisa shareholder approval.

After closing, Televisa will keep developing its telecom business in Mexico, it said, and will use the proceeds received from Univision primarily to pay down debt. Its content production and operations in Mexico will continue to be led by Azcarraga, and Bernardo Gomez and Alfonso de Angoitia, Televisa’s Co-Chief Executive Officers.

(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Christian Plumb and Michael Perry)

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