Canwest creditor protection extended

Company to bargain with studio suppliers at L.A. Screenings

TORONTO -- An Ontario court on Monday has extended yet again Canwest Global Communications Corp.'s creditor protection to June 15.

The latest extension from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, coming ahead of a March 31 deadline to negotiate new debt terms with North American lenders and suppliers, will keep creditors at bay while Canwest Global bargains with Hollywood studio suppliers for new and returning U.S. TV series at the upcoming Los Angeles Screenings in late May.

The Winnipeg-based media group first filed for creditor protection last October under Canada's Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, and has since been cutting costs and selling off assets to get out from under around CAN$4 billion in debt.

Canwest Global's scrambling for cash to stay afloat under court protection has paid off as of late.

The Ontario court in its latest snapshot of the broadcaster's balance sheet revealed Canwest Global had a fatter pocketbook in March than originally tallied.

A court monitor reported the media group had CAN$96.9 million ($95.5 million) in cash on hand as of March 14, or CAN$50.7 million ($49.5 million) more than a January forecast.

The Ontario court indicated most of the CAN$50.7 million positive variance came from higher-than-expected operating receipts during the latest three-month period, including stepped-up collection of receivables and the recent sale of the corporate aircraft.

"The CMI (Canwest Media) entities expect that approximately CAN$41.0 million ($40 million) of the variance will reverse in the future," the monitor added in its report.

The monitor forecasts that Canwest Global will end its current financial quarter on July 4 with a net cash outflow of CAN$47.8 million ($46.8 million), with total operating receipts of CAN$157 million ($154 million) offset by total operating disbursements of CAN$188.3 million ($184.5 million) and an additional restructuring cost CAN$16.5 million ($16 million).
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