Exclusive-Spanish-language Hemisphere Media Group explores sale -sources

(Reuters) -Hemisphere Media Group Inc, a U.S. streaming and broadcasting company focused on attracting Hispanic viewers, is exploring options that include a potential sale, according to people familiar with the matter.

The sale deliberations come amid a wave of dealmaking in the Spanish-language TV industry. Hemisphere’s bigger rival Univision Communications Inc agreed in April to merge with Grupo Televisa SAB’s media assets in a $4.8 billion deal, amid competitive pressure from Comcast Corp’s Telemundo.

Hemisphere is working with advisers on the potential sale, which could attract other companies and private equity firms, the sources said. There is no certainty that any deal will be reached, added the sources, who requested anonymity to discuss the confidential matter.

A spokesperson for Hemisphere declined to comment. The Miami-based company’s shares ended trading on Thursday up 6.7% at $12.78 on the news, giving it a market capitalization of $513 million. Hemisphere also carried debt as of the end of March of about $250 million.

Programming targeting Spanish-speaking viewers has become a key battlefield in the war for eyeballs among media companies, including Netflix Inc and Inc’s Prime service. The U.S. Hispanic population is expected to grow to 75 million by 2030 from 60.5 million in 2020.

Hemisphere became the sole owner of Spanish-language streaming service Pantaya earlier this year, after paying about $124 million for Lions Gate Entertainment’s 75% stake.

Pantaya boasts about 900,000 paying subscribers and expects the number to grow to 2.5 million to 3.0 million by the end of 2025.

Hemisphere also owns and operates five U.S. Hispanic cable networks, two Latin American cable networks and a broadcast television network in Puerto Rico.

Reporting by Krystal Hu in New YorkEditing by Steve Orlofsky and Matthew Lewis