Astral and BCE to announce renegotiated deal: report

Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:30am EST
 
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(Reuters) - Astral Media Inc ACMa.TO and its suitor, BCE Inc BCE.TO, are poised to announce a new takeover deal that seeks to overcome regulatory opposition with a plan to auction off a number of Astral's English broadcast assets, according to a report in the Globe and Mail on Friday.

Canada's broadcast regulator blocked the proposed C$3 billion ($2.99 billion) takeover of Astral last month, saying the deal would give too much power to BCE, which is already the country's biggest telecoms company and owner of numerous TV and radio assets.

"There will be an Act Two here that will be workable," said a person familiar with the discussions, according to the report.

People familiar with the discussions said the parties had largely worked out terms of the new transaction and could announce a deal as early as Friday, the report said.

It is unclear which Astral assets are slated for the selling block under the new plan, but one source in the report suggested the bulk of the properties would be English-language broadcast assets.

BCE is seeking to buy Astral, its largest content provider, mainly to strengthen its position in the Francophone province of Quebec, where rival Quebecor Inc QBRb.TO has a much bigger presence.

($1 = 1.0028 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Toronto Newsroom; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)