NEW YORK (Reuters) - Donald Trump, the billionaire real estate developer, is planning to sue U.S. Spanish-language TV network Univision for hundreds of millions of dollars for dropping coverage of the Miss USA pageant, which he partly owns, his lawyer said on Thursday.
Michael Cohen, the executive vice president and special counsel to Trump, said he was finalizing a retainer agreement with outside counsel.
“We intend to pursue all legal rights and remedies available to Mr. Trump pursuant to the terms of the license agreement as well as a defamation case against Univision,” he said. “The lawsuit is going to be for hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Univision said on Thursday that it would not air the Miss USA pageant on July 12 because of what it called insulting remarks by Trump about Mexican immigrants.
During his speech last week announcing his candidacy for the U.S. Republican presidential nomination, Trump accused Mexico of sending rapists and criminals to the United States.
“They’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing their problems,” he said. “They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime, they’re rapists, and some I assume are good people, but I speak to border guards and they tell us what we are getting.”
Univision [UVN.UL] said it would also sever ties with the Miss Universe Organization, a joint venture between Trump and Comcast-owned NBCUniversal.
In an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Trump said he had a signed contract with Univision.
“Of course I have a signed contract: five years, they have to pay me almost $15 million,” he said. “They can’t do this.”
U.S. TV network NBC has the rights to broadcast the English-language version of the Miss USA pageant. Univision had planned to simulcast the event in Spanish for the first time.
In addition to nixing the pageant, Univision said it would not work with any projects tied to the Trump organization.
On Thursday, an unrepentant Trump said the Mexican government had pressured Univision to sever ties with him because he had exposed problems on the southern U.S. border and in trade deals with the United States.
“Mexican leadership has been doing serious damage to the United States by out-negotiating our representatives and political leaders,” Trump said in a statement.
Univision said its local news division would continue to cover all candidates, including Trump, who are vying for the U.S. presidency.
Univision was taken private by a group of buyout firms, including Madison Dearborn Partners, Saban Capital, Providence Equity Partners, TPG Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners, for $12.3 billion in 2007.
Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Additional reporting by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Marguerita Choy