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Major Canwest newspapers likely to be sold

The Globe and Mail reports this morning that, “Canada’s largest media empire has taken its first step toward a historic breakup, as debt-laden CanWest Global Communications Corp. sought court protection from creditors to shelter some of its most crucial assets.”

“The restructuring …will now lead to what would be the biggest sale of media assets the country has ever seen…”

“The major metropolitan newspapers that are likely to change hands include the National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Calgary Herald and Vancouver Sun… Many of them are the biggest daily newspapers in their markets.”

“The company’s newspaper division, CanWest LP, which holds all of the papers except for the National Post, has not filed (for bankruptcy protection), but is expected to make that move in the coming weeks once a deal with its own creditors is reached.”

“Sources close to the situation say it is likely the TV and newspaper assets will be sold in groups if buyers can be found. If not, the creditors may decide to sell shares in those businesses through an initial public offering on the stock market in the next two years.”

“CanWest’s 13 specialty TV channels …purchased in partnership with U.S. banker Goldman Sachs, are still profitable.”

“The three funds driving the restructuring include two U.S. money managers: GoldenTree Asset Management and Beach Point Capital Management.”

“The Alliance Atlantis assets are not involved in the court filing, but a showdown now looms between CanWest’s creditors and Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs. The U.S. banker has say over what happens to the cable channels bought through its deal with CanWest, but the parent company’s new owners may fight in court to have that arrangement altered.”

In a December 21, 2007 media release we said, “The Council of Canadians is deeply disappointed with the CRTC’s decision yesterday to allow the purchase of Alliance Atlantis by broadcaster CanWest Global, which grants U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs nearly two-thirds ownership of two of Canada’s largest media companies, and which could pave the way for more foreign ownership of Canadian media.” That’s at http://canadians.org/media/other/2007/.

The Globe and Mail article is at http://theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/the-asper-dream-ends-the-sell-off-begins/article1314690/?.

Yesterday’s campaign blog, ‘Canwest newspapers to be sold to investment bankers?’ is at http://canadians.org/campaignblog/?p=1929.