The biggest transaction in the history of Spanish-language television is still days away from final approval but already Univision’s new owners are fast making radical management changes.
Joe Uva, CEO of media-buying giant OMD Worldwide, will take over as CEO of the No. 1 Spanish-language network when the sale of the network to a group of investors led by television mogul Haim Saban for $13.7 billion, including $1.4 billion in debt, goes through. A person with knowledge of the deal confirmed an earlier report.
A. Jerrold Perenchio, the main architect of Univision, who since 1992 has built it from a handful of stations into the fifth largest broadcast network in the U.S., will step down.
Univision now has an average 4.3 million viewers in prime time and had ad revenue of $2.1 billion in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence.
Uva previously was head of sales for the Turner networks. His presence at Univision would be a boost for Univision and possibly for Spanish-language channels as a whole, which usually do not command ad dollars equal to the size of their audience. A respected pro like Uva could work to change Madison Avenue’s mind.
Various rumors about Perenchio’s replacement have been popping up for the past two months, including former Kellogg’s CEO Carlos Gutierrez, in addition to Uva. The Saban investor consortium has been eyeing a veteran of the general-market ad market to oversee revenue growth.
“They still need to add more of the top advertisers in the U.S. Only about 190 of the top 300 advertisers are spending any money toward Spanish-language media,” says David Joyce, an analyst with New York-based investment firm Miller Tabak + Co. “I think it’s a wise decision.”
Perenchio oversaw the sale of Univision last June with the Saban-led consortium quickly winning out over another investor group led by Televisa, the Mexican-based production company that owns an 11% stake in Univision and provides the network with much of its programming.
Univision shareholders approved the sale in September. Final regulatory approval is expected in early March.