Alliance hearing pushed back again


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster Alliance Atlantis Communications said Wednesday that an Ontario court has agreed to delay again a hearing on an application to block an attempt by CanWest Global Communications and Goldman Sachs to acquire the company.

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice originally scheduled a hearing into the bid by Toronto-based Movie Distribution Income Fund to block the takeover deal, before pushing the date to June 15.

The hearing will now be heard June 28, giving the Movie Distribution Income Fund more time to negotiate a takeout price from Goldman Sachs for its 49% minority stake in Motion Picture Distribution LP, Canada's largest independent movie distributor. The company is looking for an offer either equal to or higher than the $9-per-unit value already placed by Goldman Sachs on Alliance Atlantis' controlling 51% stake in MPD.

David Lazzarato, executive vp and chief financial officer at Alliance Atlantis, said that delaying the Ontario court date enabled those negotiations to possibly bear fruit.

"As we expect the arrangement (CanWest/Goldman Sachs takeover offer) to be completed in July or early August, we continue to believe there is ample time for this process to run its course," he said.

Movie Distribution Income Fund executives contend that their 49% stake in MPD gives it veto power over the sale of Alliance Atlantis, which owns the remaining 51% in the indie distributor.