An investor group led by Mexican broadcaster Televisa submitted a bid for Univision Communications Inc. on Friday, but a rival offer expired, casting new doubts on a closely watched auction for the largest U.S. Hispanic broadcaster.
Univision shares rose 2.2 percent on relief that favored suitor Televisa was back in the game after missing a bid deadline and losing three investment partners earlier this week.
But those gains were pared to 1 percent in the afternoon on news that an earlier bid from a consortium that includes U.S. billionaire Haim Saban had expired. There were no immediate plans for a new bid, a source close to the offer said.
The expiration of the Saban group bid could reduce Univision's negotiating power as it considers Televisa's offer. But the source familiar with the Saban offer did not rule out returning to talks with Univision if the Televisa bid fell through.
The Televisa group submitted a bid early on Friday morning, a source familiar with the matter said. The bid is fully funded and higher than the $35.50 per share offered by the Saban group, the source said, without giving further details.
The Saban group offer valued Univision at about $11 billion, well below the company's hoped-for price of more than $12 billion, or about $40 per share.
Officials at Televisa and Univision were not immediately available for comment.
Univision shares were up 37 cents to $33.17 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange after rising as high as $33.66 earlier in the session. The stock has fallen more than 6 percent since bids were due on Tuesday.
Investors also appear to be selling some August Univision options to collect on their premium.
This is probably on the belief that the deal will not be in excess of $35 a share, said Jay Shartsis, director of options trading at R.F. Lafferty & Co.
TELEVISA ANGLES FOR INFLUENCE
The auction of Univision attracted the world's largest media companies when it was first announced in February. But the multibillion-dollar price tag and possible regulatory hurdles kept away the likes of News Corp. and CBS, whittling the field down to a two-horse race.
The Televisa group includes Venezuelan investor Gustavo Cisneros, Bain Capital and Bill Gates' Cascade Investment.
Saban is bidding with private equity firms Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, Texas Pacific Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners.
Private equity firms Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. dropped out of the Televisa group after disagreeing on the price and degree of control Televisa sought over Univision, sources familiar with the talks said.
Televisa and Cisneros, already major Univision shareholders, have been keen to increase their stake in the company for years. But foreign investors are limited to a 25 percent stake in a U.S. company such as Univision, requiring them to seek partners.
Televisa is also Univision's largest supplier of soap opera-like novelas and other programming that has propelled Univision to a rank matching that of the top English-language television networks such as CBS and Walt Disney Co.'s ABC.
The long-standing Televisa-Univision partnership has been soured somewhat by a legal battle over royalties. In the Univision auction, investors have indicated a preference for Televisa, fearing that the absence of the Mexican company from the bidding could disrupt Univision's program pipeline.
(Additional reporting by Doris Frankel in Chicago and Cyntia Barrera Diaz in Mexico)