Canada's BCE, Astral plan new takeover application

Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:50pm EST
 

By Euan Rocha and Randall Palmer

TORONTO/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's BCE Inc and Astral Media Inc have decided to go ahead with a new, revised application for approval of their proposed combination after the first one was rejected, the country's broadcasting regulator said on Friday.

Earlier, Astral said it was in discussions with BCE, the parent of Bell Canada, over revisions to their agreement that would overcome regulatory opposition to their original.

Its statement came after a newspaper report saying the two sides had already worked out a fresh deal to submit to the regulator, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

The CRTC blocked BCE's C$3 billion ($3 billion) proposed takeover of Astral last month, saying it would give too much power to BCE - already the country's biggest telecoms company and owner of numerous TV and radio assets.

On Friday, a CRTC spokesman said its chairman, Jean-Pierre Blais, had invited BCE Chief Executive George Cope and his Astral counterpart, Ian Greenberg, to explain the rationale behind its rejection. During the meeting, the two executives signaled their intention to try again.

"During those meetings they both indicated they would file a (new) application," said the spokesman, Denis Carmel, stressing that there was no pre-approval granted.

Even so, the explanation provided by Blais suggested they would understand clearly where the original plan went afoul - and, by implication, the kinds of changes that they would need to make to gain approval.

"The timing and details of any such application have not yet been determined. The company will keep its investors informed of any significant developments in this respect," Astral said in its statement.   Continued...