CanWest gets Oz approval on Ten


TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster CanWest Global Communications on Friday said it has received the green light from Australian regulators to grab a controlling stake in domestic broadcaster Ten Network.

Winnipeg, Manitoba-based CanWest said that Australia's Foreign Investment Review Board okayed its plan to convert a 56% holding in Ten Network Holdings Ltd. into ordinary shares in Ten Network.

The move to convert about 14.4% of TEN's ordinary shares and certain convertible debentures follows CanWest Global's July decision to abandon plans to sell off its controlling stake in the Australian broadcaster.

Spinning off the Network TEN stake was expected to help ease CanWest Global's long-term debt load of CAN$2.7 billion ($2.54 billion).

But Leonard Asper, CanWest Global CEO, said he hopes to complete the conversion of the TEN stake by the end of August and become the broadcaster's majority shareholder, with about 523 million shares.

"Over the past 15 years, TEN has been an extremely successful investment for us and we believe there is still much growth potential to be realized," Asper said, reiterating CanWest Global's faith in the future of the Australian broadcaster.