CanWest eyes newspaper assets buyback


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster CanWest Global Communications Corp. on Wednesday said it has hired financial advisers to consider buying back a minority stake in its Canadian newspaper assets.

CanWest MediaWorks Inc., which oversees the Canadian media assets belonging to Winnipeg, Manitoba-based CanWest Global, said it has hired financial advisor CIBC World Markets Inc. to explore buying back the CanWest MediaWorks Income Fund.

Units in the CanWest MediaWorks Income Fund, which has held a 28% stake in CanWest Global's Canadian newspaper operations since a 2005 IPO, rose 5%, or around CAN$0.39 ($0.33) to CAN$8.05 ($6.85), during afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"... At the request of CanWest MediaWorks Inc., its principal security holder, and in light of the proposed income trust tax legislative changes announced on Oct. 31, 2006, it (CanWest MediaWorks Income Fund) has established a special committee of independent trustees to consider any proposal from CanWest MediaWorks Inc. in respect of a possible going private or similar transaction," CanWest MediaWorks said in a statement.

Possibly selling CanWest MediaWorks Income Fund back to its parent follows CanWest Global and equity partner Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in January buying rival Canadian broadcaster Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. for CAN$2.3 billion ($1.9 billion).

CanWest Global is also considering possible sales of its Australian and New Zealand broadcast assets to focus more on its Canadian media operations.