(Adds details on deal, background)
TORONTO, March 16 (Reuters) – BCE Inc (BCE.TO), parent
of Bell Canada, has agreed to acquire its smaller rival Astral
Media (ACMa.TO) for C$3 billion, as seeks to expand its presence
in broadcasting and strengthen its position in the mostly
francophone province of Quebec.
BCE said on Thursday it would acquire all Class A non-voting
shares of Astral for $50 per share, a 38 percent premium to
Thursday’s close on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
“Bell’s acquisition of Astral firmly establishes our company
as Qubec’s media leader,” BCE CEO George Cope said in a
statement. “Astral’s strong financial position enables Bell to
further accelerate our significant investment in broadband
innovation across Qubec.”
BCE will also acquire all Class B subordinate voting shares
for C$54.83 per share, for a total consideration of about C$151
million, and all special shares for C$50 million. Including the
assumption of debt, the deal values Astral at about C$3.38
BCE will fund the deal through a combination of cash and
BCE common equity, with BCE retaining the right to replace
shares with cash, in whole or in part, at closing.
A year ago, Canadian regulators approved BCE’s acquisition
of broadcaster CTV for C$1.3 billion. The BCE-CTV deal was
reached in September 2010.
Astral’s board of directors has unanimously approved the
transaction and advised Astral shareholders to vote in favor of
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