Viacom pays $345m for Telefe

US media giant Viacom has confirmed it is buying Telefe, paying US$345 million for Argentinian commercial free-to-air broadcaster.

Pier-GazzoloThe deal has been in the works for months, with Viacom ultimately beating off rivals such as Turner to acquire the Telefónica-owned network.

Viacom will pay Telefónica US$345 million in cash for the channel, which is lower than the US$400 million figure reports had suggested.

Telefe reaches 95% of homes on Argentina, has taken an approximate 33% of viewership to date in 2016 locally, and produces around 3,000 hours of Spanish-language programming per year.

Viacom will gain programmes such as Educando a Nina, Loco x Vos and Pesadilla en la Cocina, eight wholly-owned local channels, pay TV business Telefe Internacional, multiplatform operations such as Mi Telefe and UPlay, twelve productions stuidos, and a library of more than 33,000 hours of content.

Telefe will sit within the Viacom International Media Networks division, which recently merged with domestic arm Viacom Media Networks to create the Viacom Global Entertainment Group.

Bob Bakish, Viacom’s acting president and CEO and permanent president and chief executive of VGEG, said the agreement would “accelerate” the firm’s growth in Argentina, which he described as “one of the most advanced and valuable media markets in Latin America”.

“Working together with Telefe’s highly successful team, we can strengthen Telefe’s market-leading status in Argentina and expand its presence around the world using Viacom’s extensive global network, potentially reaching hundreds of millions of Spanish speakers across Latin and North America, as well as in other markets,” he added.

Pierluigi Gazzolo (pictured), who is president of VIMN Americas, will now have oversight of Telefe. Regionally, Viacom operates 12 branded pay TV channels, including Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, Paramount Channel and MTV, which launched in 1993.

The exiting Telefónica said the deal would allow it to concentrate of its Argentinian telecommunications activities. The firm claims to have invested €15 billion (US$16 billion) in infrastructure since entering the market 26 years ago.

Telefónica bought Telefe, which began life as a state-owned entity in the early 1960s, in 1998.

Viacom’s acquisition is being made against a backdrop of its own complicated corporate developments.

After seeing long-serving CEO and chairman Philippe Dauman exit in August, his COO Tom Dooley took over in the interim, only to announce his exit. International chief Bakish then took over, though with talks of a recombination with cousin CBS intensifying, his role may soon change again.

A Reuters report yesterday claimed unnamed sources had identified the shape of a new board and the name of a merged company had emerged as ‘sticking points’.

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