Canwest writedown ups Q2 loss

Media group loses $1.17 bil in three months

TORONTO -- Amid an increasingly poor advertising market, a CAN$1.19 billion ($960 million) writedown at Canwest Global Communications Corp. led the media group to post a ballooning second-quarter loss Thursday.

Winnipeg-based Canwest Global said it lost CAN$1.44 billion ($1.17 billion) during the three months ending Feb. 28, compared with a loss of CAN$34 million in 2008, as the non-cash hit related mostly to its Canadian newspaper business.

Canwest Global, which continues to renegotiate a knee-buckling CAN$3.9 billion ($3.16 billion) debt load with its bankers and U.S. bondholders, last November took a CAN$1 billion ($810 million) non-cash writedown on its Canadian TV operations.

The broadcaster now faces a Tuesday deadline to make a missed $30.4 million payment to U.S. bondholders. Failure to make that payment will allow the U.S. debt holders to call in their $761 million principal.

During the latest quarter, Canwest said that overall revenue fell 9% to CAN$637 million ($515.6 million), from CAN$701 million in 2008. Canadian conventional TV revenue slipped to CAN$146.3 million ($118.5 million), against a year-earlier CAN$150.5 million. CW Media, a group of cable channels that Canwest Global controls in partnership with Goldman Sachs & Co., saw its second-quarter revenue rise to CAN$87.5 million ($70.8 million), compared with CAN$83.7 million.

Australia's Network TEN, in which Canwest Global retains a 57% controlling stake, contributed another CAN$111.7 million ($95 million).

Canwest Global's operating profit after restructuring and impairment costs fell to CAN$15.4 million ($12.5 million), against a year-earlier CAN$104 million.

Also Wednesday, rival broadcaster Astral Media posted a lower second-quarter profit of CAN$28.9 million ($23.4 million) for the three months through Feb. 28, against a profit of CAN$57.3 million in 2008, a year in which it booked an income tax recovery of CAN$28.9 million.

Astral saw revenue rise 2% to CAN$209.3 million ($169.5 million).

Meanwhile, a CAN$383.6 million ($310.5 million) non-cash writedown on its Portuguese cable operation led Montreal-based Cogeco Cable to report a CAN$358.6 million ($289 million) second-quarter loss, compared with a year-earlier profit of CAN$50 million.

Revenue at Cogeco jumped 15% to CAN$304.9 million ($247 million).
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