BCE takes buyout decision to high court

Takeover case to be heard June 17

TORONTO -- Canadian phone giant BCE is headed to the Supreme Court of Canada to salvage a $34.8 billion buyout by a domestic pension fund and its U.S. equity partners.

BCE said Canada's highest court on June 17 will hear a motion to appeal Wednesday's decision by the Quebec Court of Appeal that the takeover is unfair to bondholders.

BCE said the future of the CAN$42.75-a-share offer from the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and U.S. partners Providence Equity Partners, Madison Dearborn Partners and Merrill Lynch hinges on a "reversal" by the Supreme Court of the Quebec lower court judgment.

The BCE takeover deal, which represents Canada's largest-ever leveraged buyout, may also be saved if the phone giant reaches a settlement with bondholders, according to analysts.

The bondholders oppose the bid to take BCE private, as that would load the phone giant with debt, which in turn would reduce the security and value of the bonds.

The takeover deal is culturally sensitive because BCE's broadcast assets include a stake in CTV, the national TV network, and ownership of Bell ExpressVu, the direct-broadcast-satellite TV service.
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