TORONTO (Reuters) - Three of Canada's biggest newspaper publishers have taken control of the Canadian Press news agency, with a plan to turn the decades-old co-operative into a for-profit venture.
The owners of the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and Montreal's La Presse said in a statement they have jointly invested in the new entity, Canadian Press Enterprise Inc. The financial and ownership details of the transaction were not immediately available.
The statement said the new structure would not change the day-to-day running of the operation, which employees 300 people, but would strengthen its financial position.
The Toronto Star is owned by Torstar Corp and La Presse is part of Power Corp of Canada. The Globe and Mail is set to return to the control of Woodbridge, the holding company of Toronto's billionaire Thomson family.
Woodbridge is also the controlling shareholder of Thomson Reuters Corp. The Canadian Press competes with Thomson Reuters to provide real-time news, pictures and other information to the country's media industry.
The statement said members of the co-operative that did not take an ownership stake will switch to commercial relationships.
In July, a source said the move was imminent as the 93-year-old agency heaved under financial pressures related to a hole in its pension fund.
CP's membership and board approved the move earlier this year, the three publishers said.
In recent years, the Canadian Press took a financial hit from the loss of subscribers Quebecor, which has launched a competing service, and Canwest Global Communications, which slipped into bankruptcy protection and was then broken up and sold off.
Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Rob Wilson