UPDATE 2-Toronto stocks end flat, hampered by oils, BCE

Thu May 22, 2008 4:34pm EDT
 
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(Updates official closing numbers, adds details)

*Index ends little changed while energy shares fall

*BCE dives after court ruling raises fears over its buyout

*Bargain-hunting in financial shares gives support

TORONTO, May 22 (Reuters) - The Toronto Stock Exchange's main index finished nearly flat on Thursday, pressured by weak energy shares, while BCE Inc (BCE.TO: Quote) was hammered by concerns that a court decision could put an end to its buyout.

Shares of BCE, Canada's biggest telecom company, dived C$4.48, or 12.1 percent, to C$32.64 after a Quebec court backed debtholders who said that the buyout deal is unfair to them. The transaction, worth C$34.8 billion ($35.2 billion), is the world's largest leveraged buyout.

BCE stock was halted by the Toronto Stock Exchange in the afternoon pending clarification of the status of orders. The exchange said there had been a service disruption for about 45 minutes in the morning, which caused "data integrity concerns".

It had been the most actively traded stock by far at 26.3 million shares.

The S&P/TSX composite index .GSPTSE eked out a tiny gain of 1.99 points, or 0.01 percent, to 14,792.36 with all but three of its 10 sectors drifting higher.   Continued...