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Mexico's Televisa Takes 14.5% of Spain's Imagina in Share Swap

Deal comes as Spanish broadcaster La Sexta - owned by Televisa and Imagina - nears merger with rival channel Antena 3.

MADRID - Mexican media giant Televisa announced Wednesday it has taken a 14.5 percent stake in Spanish media group Imagina via a share swap with its Spanish partner in free TV channel La Sexta. Televisa will now control directly and indirectly 92 percent of La Sexta.

"Under the terms of the deal, the transaction enriches the synergies and opportunities to create value for Televisa and Imagina in the Spanish market, as well as the rest of the Spanish-speaking markets," Imagina said in a statement. "The transaction also includes commercial cooperation agreements between both parts for content production projects."

Imagina, which was created in 2006 by the fusion of Spanish TV production titans Mediapro and Globomedia, earned some €1.34 billion ($1.74 billion) in 2010, with 25 percent coming from sales outside of Spain. Imagina boasts offices in Barcelona, Madrid, Miami, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Caracas, Lisbon, Oporto, Luanda, Maputo, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The news of the share swap came on the same day rival television broadcaster Antena 3 confirmed talks are underway to merge with La Sexta. Spanish news reports suggested a deal had already been reached by late Wednesday.

"These negotiations are framed by a process that has experienced interruptions and breaks in previous occassions, without any formal agreement being adopted at this time by both of the companies," Antena 3 said in an official note released to stock exchange authorities on Wednesday morning.

Spanish media reported the talks are for a  shareholder merger with La Sexta holding no more than 14 percent of the resulting company.  Experts estimate La Sexta would be valued at around €240 million ($314.1 million).

A merger between the two has been on the table for two years and is seen as commercially viable, particularly after Mediaset Espana acquired smaller Spanish rival Cuatro earlier this year and merging their advertising portfolios into one company.

La Sexta's November 7.2 percent audience share compares to Antena 3's 18.5 percent share, which sits behind pubcaster Television Espanola and Mediaset's main channel, formerly known as Telecinco.