Alliance-CanWest deal delayed


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster Alliance Atlantis Communications on Wednesday said it will delay completion of a pending CAN$2.3 billion ($1.98 billion) takeover by CanWest Global Communications and Goldman Sachs & Co. to allow more time to gather key financial information for debt financing.

Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis said completion of the deal is now expected in late July or early August, rather than May as first anticipated, because it is taking longer than expected to gather unaudited financial results from the first quarters of fiscal 2006 and 2007.

In January, Winnipeg, Manitoba-based broadcaster CanWest Global launched the CAN$53 per-share bid for Alliance Atlantis, with most of the purchase price to be covered by Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs.

Alliance Atlantis has been dealing with AA Acquisition Corp. (Acquireco), a special bidding company controlled by CanWest Global to buy out the target group's 13 specialty channels.

"CanWest and Alliance Atlantis had anticipated that the preparation and audit of certain of the financial information required by Acquireco in connection with debt financing being undertaken in connection with the arrangement could be completed in time for a May closing," Alliance Atlantis said in a statement.

"However, the exercise is taking longer than initially expected, and the required information will not be available in time to permit completion of the arrangement in May 2007," the statement said.

The delay to the summer also means it will take longer for Goldman Sachs to take control of the 50% stake in the "CSI" property from Alliance Atlantis. The Canadian broadcaster co-produces three "CSI" series with CBS Prods.

It also will take longer for a designated Canadian partner of Goldman Sachs to assume control Alliance Atlantis' Motion Picture Distribution business, comprising a 51% stake in Canada's largest independent movie distributor, leaving CanWest Global with the 13 specialty channels it most covets.