Univision CEO plots retirement amid changes at Spanish-language broadcaster

randy falco

Univision, the biggest Spanish-language broadcaster in the United States, is on the cusp of major changes.

On Tuesday, the company called off a long-planned initial public offering. On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal reported that the company is "undertaking a business review that could lead to severe cost cuts."

And there's going to be a change at the top. Univision's board of directors said Wednesday night that CEO Randy Falco is retiring at the end of this year.

The announcement raised eyebrows because the board took action just four months ago to renew Falco's contract through 2020.

"Recently Randy came to us and told us that he would like to retire at the end of 2018 when he will turn 65 years old and end an outstanding 8 year tenure as the CEO of Univision," Haim Saban, chairman of the board, said in a statement.

Saban said the board "reluctantly agreed to Randy's wishes."

Falco shared the same account. He told CNNMoney that he raised the issue of retirement a few weeks ago.

"I know it was only a few months after I signed a new two-year deal, but I felt that at age 65 I wanted to end my time as CEO earlier than planned," he said.

Saban praised Falco in Wednesday night's statement, saying, "During his time as CEO he has modernized the Univision organization, grown earnings and reduced debt at record levels and we could not be more pleased with his performance."

Saban's statement was partly a response to unflattering media reports. The Hollywood Reporter said Tuesday that "investors are disappointed with Falco's inability to take Univision public," but also said "there are no plans to replace him."

The Journal disputed that on Wednesday evening, saying that the board "is considering replacing" Falco.

Then Saban's statement came out.

He announced Falco's retirement and said "we have asked Randy to work with us over the next year in restructuring the company and consult with the board on a transition to new leadership."

A Univision spokesman had no further comment on the "restructuring" plans or the possibility of cost cuts.

Falco said this about the challenges at the broadcaster: "Everything that we are facing at Univision is the same as every other traditional media company."

He told CNNMoney via email, "I'm confident we can make the necessary changes to grow and compete in a market with the emergence of tech companies and the increasing consolidation of big media companies to meet the threat of tech companies."

The Journal said that the plans "would be aimed at improving the company's performance and sprucing it up in advance of courting suitors for a potential sale."

One way or another, Univision's private-equity backers are looking for an exit. This has been true for several years. The backers include the Saban Capital Group, TPG Capital, Thomas H. Lee Partners, Providence Equity Partners, and Madison Dearborn Partners.

Saban and other investors bought the media company in 2007. They explored a sale back in 2014. Then they registered for an IPO in 2015.

But after a recent board meeting, the IPO effort was scrapped. Univision cited "prevailing market conditions."

The Univision Network is a CNN newsgathering partner.

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