Clock is ticking on Canwest payment

Late deadline for $30.4 mil to U.S. bondholders

Update: Canwest receives extension on payment

TORONTO -- Canadian broadcaster Canwest Global Communications on Tuesday faced fresh bankruptcy protection concerns as it ran up against a late-day deadline to make a missed payment of $30.4 million to U.S. bond-holders.

A spokesman for Winnipeg-based Canwest Global said word on whether the broadcaster will make the interest payment on $761 million in senior notes originally due March 15 was not anticipated until well into the evening.

Failure to make the payment will allow the U.S. bond-holders to demand repayment of the $761 million principal.

Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service on Monday downgraded Canwest Global on the expectation that it would not make the overdue $30.4 million payment Tuesday.

The deadline refocused investor concerns on Canwest Global's liquidity problems and triggered a Tuesday selloff of its stock, which fell by 2 cents, or 8%, to 23 cents on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The next debt deadline for Canwest Global is April 21, when it must cut a deal with senior lenders on new terms for a $300 million credit facility.

Failure to meet its debt obligations could force Canwest Global to file for bankruptcy protection as it attempts to fend off the effects of a deep advertising downturn on its newspaper and TV assets.

To avoid that fate, Canwest Global has cut jobs and programming costs and begun to sell assets. But no major asset sale has been achieved that could enable the Canadian broadcaster to significantly pay down its knee-buckling $4 billion debt load.

Among Canwest Global's media assets are 13 cable channels that it operates in partnership with Goldman Sachs & Co. and a controlling 57% stake in Australia's Network Ten.