Alliance acquisition clears hurdle


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster CanWest Global Communications Corp. and equity partner Goldman Sachs and Co. on Monday said they have received the go-ahead from the federal Competition Bureau to acquire Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. for CAN$2.3 billion ($1.99 billion).

The federal law enforcement agency that weighs takeover bids for possible cartel behavior green-lighted the CAN$53 per-share deal that will hand Goldman Sachs a half-stake in the "CSI" TV series and a controlling stake in independent Canadian movie distributor Motion Picture Distribution LP (MPD).

The takeover, the latest sign of increasing Canadian industry consolidation, also will see CanWest Global acquire Alliance Atlantis' 13 specialty channels.

The CanWest-Goldman Sachs purchase now awaits approval from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, the country's broadcast regulator.

Among other issues, the CRTC will consider whether sufficient safeguards have been put in place by CanWest Global to ensure that foreign partner Goldman Sachs does not exercise effective control over MPD or Alliance Atlantis' specialty channels, both of which fall under the heading of protected, culturally sensitive entities.
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