January 13, 2010 / 12:31 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 3-Corus keen on Canwest specialty-TV channels only

* Says keen on select Canwest specialty-TV channels

* Says interest in Canwest is same as before

* Earnings in line with analyst expectations (Recasts with conference call, details, analyst’s comment)

By Nicole Mordant

VANCOUVER, British Columbia , Jan 13 (Reuters) - Corus Entertainment CJRb.TO, which posted an 82 percent rise in quarterly profit on Wednesday, said it remains interested in select television assets belonging to debt-plagued Canwest Global Communications Corp CGS.V.

Corus, a Canadian TV and radio broadcaster, said last year it is keen to buy some of the specialty-TV channels owned by Canwest, parts of which have filed for bankruptcy protection under strain from a heavy debt load.

Canwest’s specialty channels, which include the popular Food Network Canada, History Television and HGTV Canada, are not part of its bankcruptcy filing.

“We do want to reaffirm our position that ... our interest in these assets are in specific specialty assets,” Corus Chief Executive John Cassaday said on a conference call.

“Nothing has changed from our previously stated position,” he said seeming to squash a Canadian newspaper report the day before that said Corus is one of four companies considering an investment in Canwest itself.

Canwest, as part of its proposed recapitalization, is looking for a new equity investment of at least C$65 million ($63 million) from Canadian investors before Jan. 30.

Meanwhile, Corus reported on Wednesday an 82 percent rise in profit to C$73.9 million, or 91 Canadian cents a share, for the three months to the end of November 2009.

Excluding one-time items such as tax recoveries and a reversal of regulatory fees, earnings per share were 61 Canadian cents, said BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Casey in a note to clients.

That was largely in line with the 56 Canadian cents per share expected on average by analysts, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S, and compares with 50 Canadian cents a share in the same quarter a year earlier.

Revenue rose 2.7 percent to C$222.3 million, helped by a rebound in television advertising revenue and growth in Corus’s pay-TV subscriber base.

“We expect this ad sales recovery will continue for the balance of the fiscal year,” Cassaday said.

Corus, which owns popular specialty-TV channels Movie Central, HBO Canada and the children’s network Treehouse, is launching two new ones this year, the Sundance Channel and W Movies.

Corus said its radio revenue fell 5.8 percent to C$71.1 million in the quarter.

Revenue at its much bigger TV business increased 7.1 percent to C$151.3 million on the back of growth in its pay television business. Corus reported 8 percent growth in TV subscriber revenue during the quarter.

Corus’ shares were down 26 Canadian cents, or 1.3 percent, at C$19.28 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday afternoon..

$1=$1.03 Canadian Additional reporting by Scott Anderson; editing by Peter Galloway

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