Univision hires investment bankers to handle IPO

Spanish-language media giant Univision continues to prepare for a midyear IPO

Univision Communications continues to prepare for an initial public offering of its shares by hiring a team of investment bankers, people close to the company said.

The nation's largest Spanish-language media company has been planning an IPO for the middle of this year, which would enable the company's private investors to begin their long-planned exit.

This week, Univision stitched together a team of investment bankers that includes Goldman Sachs Group, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, according to a knowledgeable person who asked not to be identified.

Univision's offering is expected to be one of Wall Street's largest IPOs this year.

Univision's owners are planning their public offering this year to try to capitalize on the strength of the stock market and Univision's improved balance sheet.

They would like to schedule the IPO before the start of the 2016 presidential election cycle, which is expected to produce a bounty of campaign cash for Univision as politicians attempt to woo Latino voters.

Several of Univision's owners have concluded that a public offering of stock representing less than 50% of the media company would be the best route to recoup some of their investment, people close to the company have said.

The ownership group, which includes Los Angeles billionaire Haim Saban, acquired the company in 2007 in a leveraged $13.7-billion deal that left the company saddled with debt.

The company still carries more than $9 billion in debt.

Univision's ownership group also includes private equity firms Providence Equity Partners, Madison Dearborn Partners, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Texas Pacific Group. Mexico's programming giant Grupo Televisa has an 8% interest.

Reuters on Tuesday first reported the hiring of investment bankers. In December, the Los Angeles Times detailed Univision's plans for a public offering.

Meanwhile, Univision's chief financial officer, Andrew Hobson, abruptly stepped down last month, an awkward time for the company as it prepares for its IPO.

Univision declined to disclose what prompted Hobson's departure, but the company said that Peter H. Lori, the chief accounting officer, would serve as interim CFO.

Twitter: @MegJamesLAT

 

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