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Univision wants to sell a piece of the Gawker sites it bought last year

The TV network wants a minority investor to put $200 million into its Fusion Media Group.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

In 2016, Univision bought almost all of the Gawker Media sites. Now it’s selling a stake in them.

Univision is asking investors to spend up to $200 million to buy a minority stake in Fusion Media Group, Univision’s millennial-focused operating group that includes the old Gawker sites, the Onion, a production studio and Fusion TV, a small TV network.

Sources say the company has hired bankers at Morgan Stanley and Raine Group to shop the deal.

The idea would be for Univision to keep control of Fusion, but create a standalone company. One example of a big media company doing something similar with a digital asset would be Conde Nast, which bought Reddit, and then brought in outside investors as that site grew, while keeping control of the property.

Fusion and Univision reps wouldn’t comment on the funding/carve-out process, but offered statements praising Fusion.

From Univision rep Rosemary Mercedes: “FMG is an important and growing part of our portfolio and we are committed to positioning it for continued success..” And from Fusion rep Dawn Bridges: “As a growing media company, FMG always is exploring and evaluating any number of different opportunities to enhance our potential for growth and continued success.”

Univision is shopping the Fusion stake a year after it acquired all of the Gawker Media sites — except for itself — via a bankruptcy auction for $135 million. Gawker had filed for bankruptcy after losing a privacy lawsuit to wrestler Hulk Hogan, who had been secretly bankrolled by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel.

Since the Univision acquisition, a stream of Gawker employees have left the websites. But Fusion says it is happy with the performance of the sites — now rebranded as Gizmodo Media Group — and says its combined digital properties now have an audience of more than 110 million unique visitors.

Investors who have looked at the deal say it may be attractive to private equity investors, at a certain price. But the proposed sale is coming at a time when investors are generally skeptical about media properties. There are lots of properties looking for buyers or funding, without success.

Mashable, for instance, has been on the market for many months, and now appears ready to sell to publisher Ziff Davis for $50 million — a fraction of the $250 million valuation it commanded from investors in 2016.

And both BuzzFeed and Vice, two of the most highly valued digital media startups, are going to miss their 2017 revenue targets, the Wall Street Journal reported today. That story will make things even harder for Fusion’s bankers.

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