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U.S. Seeks Details on Univision Merger

September 13, 2002|MEG JAMES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Justice Department is scrutinizing Univision Communications Inc.'s planned $2.1-billion acquisition of Hispanic Broadcasting Corp., raising questions over whether the deal will be quickly approved by regulators.

Univision, the Los Angeles-based Spanish-language broadcasting giant, and Hispanic Broadcasting of Dallas issued a joint statement late Thursday saying the Justice Department has requested additional information from the two companies. The inquiry, which is not uncommon in merger deals, was made under the requirements of the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976.

"The companies intend to work with the [Justice Department] and respond promptly to the request for additional information," the statement said, adding that the companies still expect the transaction to close by the end of the year.

In June, when Univision announced the deal, Univision said they didn't expect any regulatory opposition. However, Univision has a 31% stake in Santa Monica-based Entravision Communications Corp., which owns Spanish-language radio and TV stations.

Hispanic Broadcasting owns 55 radio stations, including five in Los Angeles. On the day the Univision-Hispanic Broadcasting deal was announced, Spanish Broadcasting System Inc. sued Hispanic Broadcasting and Clear Channel Communications Inc., accusing the two companies of antitrust behavior. Clear Channel has a 26% stake in Hispanic Broadcasting.

Univision stock closed Thursday at $22.40, down $1.61 on the New York Stock Exchange. Hispanic Broadcasting shares fell $1.37 to $18.53, also on the NYSE.

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