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By Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications Inc has in recent weeks held discussions with banks about an initial public offering, according to three people familiar with the matter, as strong stock markets encourage private equity owners to seek exits for their portfolio companies.
New York-based Univision was taken private by a group of buyout firms including Madison Dearborn Partners, Providence Equity Partners, TPG Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners for $12.3 billion in March 2007.
The company is leaning toward an IPO, which may come in the second half of 2014, as the board continues to evaluate the company's strategic direction, one of the people said, adding that Univision has not yet made a formal decision to proceed with the offering.
All the people asked not to be identified because the discussions are confidential. Univision, Madison Dearborn, TPG, Providence and THL declined to comment.
A surge in the equity markets this year has encouraged large private equity-backed companies to pursue IPOs.
Hotel operator Hilton Worldwide, which was taken private by Blackstone Group LP for $26 billion in 2007, said earlier this month it intends to raise upwards of $1.25 billion from an initial public offering.
Oil and natural gas company Antero Resources Corp, controlled by private equity firm Warburg Pincus LLC, is planning a $1 billion IPO.
Univision owns a highly rated Spanish language broadcast network that sometimes beats English language broadcasters such as NBC in the primetime ratings race. It also owns another broadcast channel called UniMas, as well as several cable networks and a stable of Spanish radio stations.
Mexican media conglomerate Televisa, which also provides a chunk of Univision programming, made a $1.2 billion investment in the company in 2010. As part of the deal, Televisa took a 5 percent Univision stake and bought debt that could be converted into a stake of up to 30 percent in the broadcaster.
Univision's second-quarter earnings grew 28 percent this year to $40.7 million. Revenue rose 10.4 percent to $676.5 million.
(Reporting by Olivia Oran and Soyoung Kim in New York; additional reporting by Liana Baker; editing by Gunna Dickson)