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Univision to seek buyer after selling Gizmodo online businesses

Univision to seek buyer after selling Gizmodo online businesses
A journalist holds a microphone bearing the Univision logo in Los Angeles. (Damian Dovarganes / AP)

Univision Communications Inc. is seeking possible bidders as part of a plan by the Spanish-language broadcaster to explore strategic options, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The process is just getting started, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. The company has failed at past efforts to arrange a sale and scrapped plans for an initial public offering in March 2018.

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Univision has taken steps to improve its operations in recent months, selling off digital businesses like its Gizmodo Media Group, which included the online brands Jezebel and Deadspin, to the private equity firm Great Hill Partners in April. Terms were not disclosed. That could make it more appealing to potential bidders, the person said.

The broadcaster bought much of what was then known as Gawker Media for $135 million in 2016 after gossipy, confrontational Gawker lost a privacy suit against Hulk Hogan. (The original Gawker.com has a different owner. It is being relaunched by another digital media company, Bustle.)

A few years ago, New York-based Univision was investing in English-language digital sites aimed at young people. It bought the Onion humor site in January 2016 and African American news site the Root in 2015.

But the strategy didn’t turn out well. The sites were not profitable and the company has refocused on Spanish TV.

Univision is working with Morgan Stanley and the boutique investment bank LionTree, the person said. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday on the company’s decision to consider its alternatives.

The broadcaster has struggled financially since a 2007 leveraged buyout. The company said it finished 2018 with $7.4 billion in debt. In 2017, Univision rejected an offer from cable TV billionaire John Malone that valued the company at $13.5 billion to $15 billion.

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