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Grupo Prisa, Corporativo Coral: Legal Dispute Over Radiópolis

By Andrea Villar | Wed, 09/23/2020 - 05:00

On the night of Aug. 25, the Miguel Alemán family took over the facilities of W Radio, one month after completing the acquisition of 50 percent of the shares from Televisa Radio. At the beginning of July, Grupo Televisa concluded the sale of its 50 percent stake in Sistema Radiópolis to the Alemán family for which it received MX$1.25 million (US$57 million). "The sale of Televisa's stake in Radiópolis is part of the company's plans to divest itself of certain non-strategic operations to concentrate its resources on its content and distribution assets," Grupo Televisa said in a statement.

Hours after the takeover, through a statement that circulated on social networks, Radiópolis announced that, as a result, Ignacio Carral Kramer would replace Francisco Cabañas as the firm's General Manager. According to the Alemán family, a shareholders' meeting was held at which Miguel Alemán Magnani was appointed President. In addition, new members of the Board of Directors of Radiópolis were designated. 

This triggered a lawsuit between Grupo Coral, owned by Grupo Alemán, and Grupo Prisa, as the latter company was not invited to the shareholders' meeting. "The side of Miguel Alemán Magnani decided to dismiss the CEO, Francisco Cabañas, an executive with more than 20 years of career with the Hispanics (Grupo Televisa), and to appoint three new directors. From this point on, the Spaniards (Grupo Prisa) knew that the clash with Alemán over editorial control of Radiópolis was inevitable, especially with the entry of his new partners Carlos Cabal, Alejandro del Valle and Carlos Aguirre," wrote in his column in El Financiero Darío Celis back in August.

But why is Grupo Prisa angry?  Last July, when the Spanish company propped up Grupo Alemán with MX$624 million (US$28 million) to pay off the MX$1.25 billion (US$57 million) agreed with Televisa, the company signed a new onerous contract. "The businessman accepted conditions from Prisa that even went beyond what Televisa agreed in 2001: to appoint the CEO and more directors, in addition to the obvious editorial control that was ratified," explains Celis in his column.

However, Grupo Alemán backed down and now Corporativo Coral claims that Grupo Prisa cannot control the board of Radiópolis as the Foreign Investment Law limits foreign companies to holding more than 50 percent of the shares in a radio station. It was then that Grupo Prisa, which owns 50 percent of Radiópolis' shares, demanded Corporativo Coral to respect the statutes and agreements signed in July 2019. The company stated that, contrary to what Corporativo Coral says, Mexican law has been respected, as it does not seek to control the station. 

"Prisa has never had control of the editorial content. That was not negotiated and we never intended to have it, that is up to Radiópolis and its directors. I do not know the reason for these actions, but it is fundamental that the station remains totally independent," Jesús Guerra, Grupo Prisa's lawyer, said at a press conference on Monday. Grupo Prisa said the only thing it seeks is respect for its position as shareholder and the contract signed, as well as to participate in any board meetings and appointments made, since Corporativo Coral has the right to appoint three Radiópolis’ directors, while Grupo Prisa has the right to appoint two. 

Andrea Villar Andrea Villar Journalist and Industry Analyst