Univision buys stake in owner of satirical site the Onion

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 19, 2016 1:57 PM

By Anya George Tharakan

(Reuters) - The Onion - the satirical website famous for headlines like “Black man given worst job in Nation” following the election of Barack Obama as U.S. president in 2008 – has a new major shareholder.

Univision Communications Inc [UVN.UL], the U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster, has bought a 40 percent stake in Onion Inc, the company that owns the site as well as film review website The A.V. Club and satire site ClickHole. "The communications company has acquired a good chunk of Onion Inc as of (Tuesday), and may acquire the remainder down the line," Onion Chief Executive Mike McAvoy said in a memo to employees.

Univision said on Tuesday its digital arm is a minority investor in Onion.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but a source in Onion said the deal was for a 40 percent stake valued at less than $200 million.

Univision Digital will work with Onion to look at new content offerings including short and long-form formats for Onion's brands, the company said.

The Onion, which humorously claims a daily readership of 4.3 trillion on its website and ownership of a majority of the world's transoceanic shipping lanes, was founded in 1988.

"It (comedy) has also proven to be an incredibly engaging format for millennial audiences, and is expected to play a key part in the 2016 presidential election process via our robust content offerings in Spanish and English," said Isaac Lee, chief news and digital officer of Univision.

New York-based Univision owns a highly rated Spanish language broadcast network that sometimes beats English language broadcasters such as NBC in the primetime ratings race.

The news of the purchase of the Onion stake was first reported by National Public Radio on Tuesday.

(This version of the story corrects to 2008 from 2004 in first paragraph)

(Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Don Sebastian)