Univision, best known in the US for its Spanish-language broadcasting, has acquired Gawker Media in a bankruptcy auction for $135 million. The PE-backed acquirer beat the “stalking horse" bid of $90 million made by media company Ziff Davis, which will now receive $2.47 million for its trouble alongside an expense reimbursement up to $1.25 million, according to Bloomberg. The deal now heads into review by a bankruptcy judge.
The Gawker purchase is only the latest in a busy few buy-years for Univision. The company has made several significant moves of late that have helped it reach wider and, crucially, younger audiences more inclined to use new forms of media. With Gawker soon to take its place among its stable of media companies, Univision may have just positioned itself well for making good on that IPO it postponed late last year.
One vision: Acquisition
Before making a move on Gawker, Univision picked up other companies working in a range of media, old and new, satirical and serious. According to the PitchBook Platform, its acquisitions have cleaved evenly between B2C and IT.
In May 2015, Univision picked up The Root, which was founded in 2008 and, under the leadership of prominent Harvard academic and African-American activist Henry Louis Gates, Jr., covers breaking news while trying to “give voice to a changing, more diverse America.” Then, in August 2015, Univision made what thus seems an obvious investment for a non-controlling stake in fuboTV, a cloud-based video platform for sports that provides live streaming of soccer matches.
This January, Univision turned heads when it bought The Onion, which operates a stable of news and satire websites, including ClickHole and the A.V. Club—assets that will likely complement Gawker’s own offerings as well as its other sites such as Jezebel and Deadspin. In April, Univision reached an agreement with ABC to become the sole owner of Fusion, which the broadcast giants launched as a joint venture in 2013. Fusion provides a platform of media services in news, pop culture and comedy content and styles itself as a “media brand for a young, diverse and inclusive world.”
Univision is grouping these companies and many of their brands under the umbrella of the renamed Fusion Media Group, which also includes the El Rey channel, Starwipe, Flama, Univision Digital and Univision Music.
Is Gawker the last piece in Univision’s IPO puzzle?
Univision postponed its plans to go public last December, citing the performance then of publicly traded media companies. However, Univision amended its SEC filing in January, and now with the acquisition of Gawker, there's plenty of reason to believe developments on the IPO front could be in the offing. In April, Bloomberg reported that an IPO could raise the company $1 billion and multiple reports have indicated an offering could come as soon as later this year.
So, we might just be using one of Univision's media outlets to follow CEO Randy Falco ringing the closing bell on the company's first day of trading.
An IPO would bring sweet relief to the PE firms that took Univision private in 2007 for a total consideration of $13.7 billion. That deal added extensive debt to Univision's balance sheet that an IPO could correct. Univision is backed by Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, TPG and Thomas H. Lee Partners.