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Univision to Expand Into Music Business

April 18, 2001|JEFF LEEDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Univision, the nation's largest Spanish-language television network, will announce today the formation of its own record label and its multimillion-dollar purchase of a 50% stake in one of Mexico's hottest labels.

The move immediately should make Univision chief Jerry Perenchio a player in the nation's $600-million Latin music market.

Perenchio will try to boost sales by providing Univision network air time to advertise albums from the two labels, sources said. Univision long has aired promotions for albums released by independent label Fonovisa, which is owned by Univision shareholder Televisa.

Perenchio is expected to appoint former EMI Group music executive Jose Behar to run the new Los Angeles-based Univision Music label. Behar, who resigned from EMI in February, developed such acts as Jon Secada, Selena and Oscar De La Hoya.

"We have this calendar year to try to build a great team of executives and certainly be on the lookout for great artists so that next year at this time, our music is out there and we'll have the right support team," Behar said.

Univision will become an equity owner of Monterrey, Mexico-based Disa Records, a top player in regional Mexican music, a genre that makes up about 51% of the Latin market in the U.S. Disa, which controls an estimated 5% share of the overall Latin market in the U.S., had been the subject of competition among the world's major record conglomerates.

Both Disa and Univision albums will be distributed in the U.S. by Vivendi Universal's Universal Music Group, sources said. The deal is expected to move Universal from fifth to second place among the five major record companies in sales of Latin albums in the U.S.

The deal puts Universal in business with "two labels we think are positioned for significant growth in the future," said Universal Chief Operating Officer Zach Horowitz.

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