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Randy Falco is preparing to exit Univision Communications, with the impending parting of the ways coming just days after the nation’s top Spanish-language TV company ditched its effort to go public and replaced its CFO.
Investors were clearly disappointed at Univision’s failed, years-long attempt at an IPO, but as recently as four months ago, one of the more prominent of the group, media mogul Haim Saban, expressed his support of Falco. At that time, Univision extended Falco’s contract so that he was expected to stay CEO until Jan. 31, 2020.
“There are multiple rumors out there and on behalf of the Univision Board I would like to set the record straight about our CEO Randy Falco,” Saban said Wednesday in a statement. “Recently Randy came to us and told us that he would like to retire at the end of 2018 when he will turn 65 years old and end an outstanding 8-year tenure as the CEO of Univision.”
Saban, Univision’s board chairman, added: “Let me be clear we at the Board of Univision have reluctantly agreed to Randy’s wishes out of respect and the high regard we have for him as a partner. During his time as CEO he has modernized the Univision organization, grown earnings and reduced debt at record levels and we could not be more pleased with his performance. We have asked Randy to work with us over the next year in restructuring the company and consult with the board on a transition to new leadership.”
When Univision said Tuesday that CFO Francisco Lopez-Balboa was replaced by one of his lieutenants, Peter Lori, insiders told The Hollywood Reporter that Lopez-Balboa was taking the fall for the CEO. Insiders also say Univision is looking at ways to slash costs, so the jobs of some of its 4,000 employees may be in jeopardy.
With Falco exiting, though, it remains to be seen whether another CEO will have any more luck than he had taking the company public. Before plans for an IPO were scrapped Tuesday, Univision was attempting to raise about $1 billion in an offering that would have valued the company at about $20 billion.
“Prevailing market conditions” were cited as the reason for the scuttled IPO, but Univision recently reported $104 million in quarterly profit, reversing a $31 million loss from the same quarter a year earlier.
Still, Wall Street remains skeptical, in part due to President Donald Trump’s tough talk on immigration and the possibility of building a wall on the southern border, which would restrict the flow of Spanish-speakers into the U.S.
Under Falco, Univision has diversified into some English-language media programming, including an acquisition of parody outlet The Onion.
Another bugaboo that could worry potential new investors is that the telenovelas at Univision aren’t as popular as they once were, especially with younger audiences, as they haven’t changed with the times very much and remain formulaic and old-fashioned compared to competing programming from Telemundo.
Univision operates Univision Network and UniMas, formerly Telefutura, as well as cable channel Galavision, sports network Univision Deportes, Gizmodo Media and other assets.
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