CANADA STOCKS-TSX gains as Astral shares soar on BCE takeover

Fri Mar 16, 2012 11:16am EDT
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* TSX up 49.74 points, or 0.4 pct, at 12,505.56

* Astral soars 33 pct on takeover by BCE

* Five of 10 main sectors higher

By Jennifer Kwan

TORONTO, March 16 (Reuters) - Toronto's main stock index extended gains on Friday, as shares of Astral Media soared on news BCE Inc will buy the media company.

The parent of Bell Canada said on Friday it has agreed to acquire Astral in a deal that values the television and radio company at C$3.38 billion, including debt. Shares of Astral jumped 33.60 percent to C$48.43. BCE fell 0.4 percent to C$39.90.

"It obviously puts a little bit of buying interest into the market because when you get a takeover bid in one area or sector you wonder is this a takeover fever that is rebuilding. There is money around," Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at ScotiaMcLeod.

"It does show the interest is there and the trend is there."

Viterra is also the focus of buyout talk with Swiss trading house Glencore planning a three-way carve-up of Canada's biggest grain handler with privately owned Richardson International and fertilizer producer Agrium, according to an industry source.   Continued...