Liberty Media discusses potential deal with Univision: source

(Reuters) - U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc held early-stage talks with John Malone's Liberty Media Corp FWONA.O, after he expressed interest in an acquisition or significant investment, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO - Liberty Media Corp. chairman John Malone arrives at the annual Allen and Co. conference at the Sun Valley, Idaho Resort July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

An acquisition of Univision would expand Liberty Media’s ever-growing media footprint, while giving the broadcaster’s private equity owners a chance to cash out on their investment after they pushed back plans for an initial public offering.

There is no certainty that Malone will pursue the talks further, the source said. Without a deal, Univision may go public in the first half of next year, the source added.

The source requested anonymity because the discussions, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, are confidential. New York-based Univision declined to comment. Liberty Media did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Liberty Media has investments across the media industry, including telecommunications company Charter Communications Inc CHTR.O, motorsports business Formula One Group FWONA.O and radio business Sirius XM Radio Inc.

It is also an investor in cable company Discovery Communications Inc DISCA.O, which sources have said is engaged in merger talks with Scripps Networks Interactive Inc SNI.O.

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.

Mexican media company Grupo Televisa TLVACPO.MX is a minority investor in Univision.

It holds three board seats and also collects hundreds of millions in licensing revenue and royalties every year from Univision, which airs a large chunk of its programming.

Univision, with total 2016 sales of $3 billion, owns television operations, cable networks, digital businesses such as mobile apps and radio stations.

This would not be the first time Univision has explored a sale. It has had conversations with CBS Corp CBS.N and Time Warner Inc TWX.N, sources previously told Reuters.

Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Richard Chang