This wasn't the way the script was written. Univision put itself up for sale, attracted some pretty well-heeled bidders, and set a deadline for the bids. The thought all along (apparently) was that the leading Spanish-language broadcaster in the U.S. would be able to sell itself for somewhere between $12 billion to $13 billion.
Apparently, reality is intruding upon that plan.
What we know now is this: There's a bid on the table from one group (which includes the man who brought us the "Power Rangers") for a bit less than $11 billion, and the other bidding group seems to be unraveling. This other group is the one that contains GrupoTelevisa, the Spanish language-programming partner for Univision that so desperately wants to own it. But unfortunately for Televisa, well-known private investing groups, including Carlyle, KKR, and Blackstone, have now abandoned the bid — purportedly over disagreements on its size.
So, where do we go from here?
First of all, the Televisa group isn't dead yet. A private equity group backed by Microsoft's Bill Gates is still on board, and the group can probably raise enough money from other sources to continue on, if they choose. And given that members of the rival group also own stakes of the company behind the Nielsen rating service, potential conflicts of interests and complaints from other major broadcasters may make that bid a little less appealing.
(MSNBC.com is a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal News.)
Let's also not forget one very real potential option: Univision can pull itself off the auction block. This is, after all, a solvent and growing company that has a headlock on one of the fastest-growing demographics in this country. If it can't get a price it believes is fair, you can absolutely argue that the board has a duty to shareholders not to sell out for an inferior price.
I really have no idea how this is all going to sort itself out, and that's precisely why I'm not a fan of playing into these buyout stories. There are just too many things that can go wrong, and usually not enough things that can go right to justify ordinary investors taking a risk on these ideas. But keep an eye on the story — the thought of an independent Univision may be bad for the stock today, but maybe not so bad for investors tomorrow.
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).