Champions League rights-holder Univision sold to private equity firms

A consortium headed up by private equity firms Searchlight Capital Partners and ForgeLight LLC have acquired a controlling stake in Spanish-language broadcaster and Uefa Champions League rights-holder Univision.

The bidding group paid about $526m (€483m) for the 64-per-cent stake in Univision, implying an equity valuation of about $821m, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal.

The sellers include private equity firms Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, TPG, Thomas H. Lee Partners and Saban Capital Group. Mexican media group and founding Univision investor Grupo Televisa, which has a programming licensing agreement with the broadcaster, retains the remaining 36 per cent.

Wade Davis, ForgeLight’s founder and former chief financial officer of media conglomerate Viacom, has been named as Univision’s new chief executive.

Univision is active in the sports rights market in the US and is a rights-holder to the Uefa Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League rights until 2023-24. CBS and Univision will pay a total of $150m per season for the English-language and Spanish-language rights, respectively in the next three-season cycle (2021-22 to 2023-24).

Last season’s Champions League final averaged 1.4 million viewers on Univision and Univision Deportes Network, despite the absence of a Spanish club in the final (which was contested by Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur). The Spanish-language broadcaster has set audience records since acquiring the Uefa club rights from 2018-19 onwards.

The broadcaster also holds Spanish-language rights to a host of Uefa national team properties, and domestic rights to Major League Soccer.

Last year, Univision rebranded its sports operation to TUDN in an effort to better connect its sports output.

The broadcaster still carries debts of around $7.4bn.