Univision in Talks to Be Sold to Former Viacom CFO's Investor Group (Report)

Wade Davis - Publicity - H 2017
Dario Acosta/Courtesy of Viacom

The group also includes private equity firm Searchlight Capital, and Davis is expected to run the company as CEO if a deal is finalized.

Spanish-language media giant Univision Communications is in exclusive talks to be acquired by an investor group led by former Viacom CFO Wade Davis, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources. 

The group also includes private equity firm Searchlight Capital, and Davis is expected to run the company as CEO if a deal is finalized, it said. 

Representatives for Univision and Searchlight declined to comment. A rep for Hemisphere Media, in which Searchlight has a stake, also offered no comment. Reps for Davis couldn't immediately be reached.

Davis late last year left Viacom due to its recombination with CBS to form ViacomCBS. In December, he launched a company called ForgeLight LLC, which he runs as CEO.

For Peter Csathy, founder and chairman of Creatv Media, Davis and his backers are well positioned to acquire Univision as the former Viacom exec has the streaming platform expertise with Pluto TV and AwesomenessTV to bring the Spanish language broadcaster into the digital era. "The strategy is obvious: bring Univision into the streaming-first world, because it's not there. To do that, you need the right leadership that understands this new streaming era. Wade is an obvious choice to head up that leadership," Csathy told THR.

Searchlight's investments include John Malone's cable giant Liberty Latin America, Hemisphere Media Group, which operates Spanish-language cable networks and broadcast TV assets in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Latin America, as well as Global Eagle, a provider of media, content and connectivity to airlines, cruise lines and the likes.

Univision, led by CEO Vincent Sadusky, last year put itself on the auction block. Final bids were believed to be due this month. 

During an analyst call Friday, Liberty Global CEO Mike Fries addressed recent chatter that the Europe-focused cable giant of Malone was eyeing a bid for Univision. "The reports of us buying Univision for $9 billion were not accurate," Fries told analysts. "But we will look creatively at deploying capital in small venture-like ways in order to drive future strategic opportunities."

In January, chatter emerged that the company was among possible bidders for Univision via its Liberty Global Ventures investment arm together with Hemisphere Media. "This is a small investment that Liberty Global Ventures is exploring," a Liberty Global representative told The Hollywood Reporter at the time.

Univision and its private equity backers, which have owned the media company for years since a leveraged buyout, have been looking for a sale for months. The Journal said they have been seeking a price of around $10 billion, including debt.