Univision Exploring Sale of Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion

Courtesy of Univision

The Hispanic broadcaster has tapped Morgan Stanley to shop the former Gawker assets after earlier scrapping plans for an initial public offering.

Univision Communications on Tuesday said it has tapped Morgan Stanley to explore the possible sale of its former Gawker assets, which includes the Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion. 

The move follows the Hispanic broadcaster scrapping plans for an initial public offering, replacing its CFO and announcing that CEO Randy Falco would retire, even though his contract ran through to 2020. 

Univision in a statement said that "pursuing a sale of GMG and The Onion collectively will allow UCI to focus on its core assets and further strengthen UCI’s position as the No. 1 media company serving U.S. Hispanics, while enabling both GMG and The Onion even greater opportunities to grow under new ownership."

Univision CEO Vince Sandusky, in a separate note to employees that was obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, reiterated that spinning off the former Gawker assets would enable his company to focus on U.S. Hispanic audiences. "I know GMG and The Onion have been through significant change since we acquired the assets. While they have had success with us, there is no doubt in my mind that they can thrive even more as part of a company whose focus aligns better with theirs," he wrote.

"Likewise, it is important for Univision to exit a business which does not enhance our core mission, and instead refocus on our strengths," Sandusky added.

The former Gawker Media Group assets include Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Splinter, The Root, Kotaku, Earther and Jalopnik. The Onion portfolio includes The Onion, Clickhole, The A.V. Club and The Takeout.

Univision bought them in a 2016 auction in a bid to target young consumers in a non-Spanish U.S. market, a move that ended 14 years of independence for the online publisher under founder and CEO Nick Denton.

"There is no assurance that the process to explore the sale of these assets will result in any transaction or the adoption of any other strategic alternative," Univision added.

Univision, which was taken private for about $14 billion a decade ago, is now for sale, as investors like Haim Saban and some private equity firms seek a profit on their investment. Market watchers always expected that Univision would first spin off the former Gawker Media assets and sell them separately.

Billionaire media tycoon John Malone earlier showed an interest in taking a stake in Univision, while Discovery Communications, in which Malone owns a stake, also kicked the tires on Univision.

July 10, 5:45 p.m. Updated with a statement from Univision CEO Vince Sandusky contained in a note to employees.