July 3, 2019 / 9:57 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 2-Univision explores sale as market appetite for media companies improves

(Recasts with Univision statement)

By Greg Roumeliotis and Rama Venkat Raman

July 3 (Reuters) - Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc is exploring a possible sale and has hired advisers, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

The broadcaster confirmed on Wednesday its board of directors is reviewing options and has hired Morgan Stanley, LionTree and Moelis & Company as advisers.

Univision decided to explore a sale after it improved some of its ratings in challenging markets and saw the shares of Walt Disney Co, which it considers a peer, soar, the sources told Reuters.

Telecommunication companies with an interest in media, such as AT&T Inc, technology companies seeking to boost their video content, such as Facebook Inc, as well as international media companies could take an interest in Univision, the sources said.

The company said it cannot assure the timing or outcome of the review.

"The current environment favors scale and cross-platform offerings, and we believe those major media companies that fail to recognize and capitalize on this unique opportunity in Spanish-language media will be left behind,” said Vincent Sadusky, chief executive officer of Univision in a statement.

Univision was taken private by a group of buyout firms, including Madison Dearborn Partners, Saban Capital, Providence Equity Partners, TPG Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, for $12.3 billion in 2007.

Univision filed for an IPO in 2015, but investor appetite for large indebted companies such as Univision soured and those plans have been on hold.

During the delay, the company underwent a restructuring that led to the layoffs of more than 200 employees. It also acquired U.S. internet publisher Gawker Media LLC for $135 million. (reut.rs/2RPzSsj)

In April, private equity firm Great Hill Partners agreed to buy Gizmodo Media Group, which includes Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin and Lifehacker, and The Onion from Univision.

Univision turned down an offer from cable tycoon John Malone in 2017 that valued the company at between $13.5 billion to $15 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Univision's plan to explore options was first reported on.wsj.com/2KWdTiz by the Journal. (Reporting by Gregory Roumeliotis in New York and Rama Venkat in Bengaluru; Editing by James Dalgleish and Lisa Shumaker)

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