Univision Chief Executive Randy Falco to retire as media company struggles

Meg James, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Business News

Univision Communications Chief Executive Randy Falco is stepping down after nearly eight years -- a move that underscores disarray within the nation's largest Spanish-language media company.

Univision board Chairman Haim Saban made the announcement Wednesday night.

"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," Saban said in a statement, noting that the board had "reluctantly agreed to Randy's wishes."

The surprise resignation comes just four months after Univision renewed Falco's contract, which would have extended his tenure through January 2020.

But tensions have heightened inside Univision. The company must come up with a long-term strategy -- and new leadership -- at a time when it can no longer count on millions of Spanish-speaking immigrants to stay glued to their TVs.

Univision's board this year brought in a management firm to review the company's operations and make recommendations on a companywide restructuring, according to two people familiar with the process but not authorized to speak publicly.

One person said the consultants have been searching for as much as $200 million in cost-savings, an enormous sum that could result in substantial layoffs.

Falco's resignation came one day after the company said Chief Financial Officer Francisco J. Lopez-Balboa was departing "to pursue other opportunities." Univision executive Peter H. Lori was named the new CFO, effective this week.

Univision is owned by a consortium of private equity owners who bought the Spanish-language media company in 2007 for more than $13 billion -- a leveraged buyout that left the company swimming in debt. In 2015, the company unveiled plans for a public offering that would have allowed Saban Capital and the other private equity firms to finally begin an exit.

But on Tuesday, Univision said it had abandoned its IPO plans. Lopez-Balboa was hired in 2015, in part, to help guide the IPO process, and his role was diminishing, one of the knowledgeable people said.


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