Shaw to buy control of Canwest TV operations

Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:01pm EST
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By Susan Taylor

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Cable operator Shaw Communications Inc has agreed to buy a controlling stake in the television business of debt-swamped Canwest Global Communications Corp, Canada's biggest media company, the two firms said on Friday.

Shaw, which owns cable and telecom services in Western Canada, said it will buy a minimum 20 percent equity stake and 80 percent voting interest in Canwest Global, which has been struggling under a debt load of about C$4 billion ($3.8 billion).

No terms were disclosed for the acquisition, which will give Shaw control of Canwest's national television network and specialty TV channels.

Canwest's print assets, including Canada's biggest chain of daily newspapers, are not included in the deal.

Shaw is one of Canada's three big cable-TV companies, competing against Toronto-based Rogers Communications and Montreal-based Quebecor.

"They're basically trying to buy content for their cable business," said Desjardins Securities analyst Maher Yaghi in an interview. "Rogers and Quebecor have media divisions; Shaw is not particularly strong in that business."

Canwest's specialty channels, including HGTV, Showcase and Fox Sports World, are prime content for cable.

Canwest filed for creditor protection in October 2009 for its television operations, including its Global TV network and specialty channels.   Continued...

<p>A Canwest sign is seen outside an office building in Toronto, October 6, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>