Canwest newspapers in bankruptcy protection

Canwest LP put on the auction block

TORONTO -- Debt-laden broadcaster Canwest Global Communications Corp. on Friday filed for creditor protection for its publishing group, Canwest LP, and put the division on the auction block.

Canwest Global put most of its broadcasting assets under similar court protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in October as it continues to shed assets and negotiate with North American bondholders to get out from under around $4 billion in debt.

The latest move has seen just under half of the newspaper division's 8% senior noteholders approve the voluntary filing with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

Canwest Global's newspapers and related digital media and mobile properties affected by the court filing have been given $25 million in debtor-in-possession financing to continue operating through the pre-package restructuring.

In addition, investment bank RBC Capital Markets has been retained to field bids for the publishing group, which has $1 billion in annual revenue and $1.5 billion in debt owed to senior secured lenders.

"Creditor protection will enable an orderly financial restructuring of the LP entities and ensure they continue as a stronger, integrated newspaper and digital media publishing business with a renewed financial outlook," Canwest Global said in a statement.

The publishing group comprises 12 major daily newspapers, 26 community newspapers and other publications heavily impacted by an advertising slump during the economic downturn.