First bids for Canwest Global in the works

Potential investors include Shaw, Corus, Fairfax, Pattison

TORONTO -- First-round bids for Canwest Global Communications Corp. are in the works as the Canadian media group looks to come out of court-directed creditor protection.

Potential investors in Canwest Global include cable operator Shaw Communications, Shaw broadcast subsidiary Corus Entertainment, private equity group Fairfax Financial Holdings and Vancouver-based Jim Pattison Group, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported Tuesday.

U.S. bondholders and other senior creditors, who are looking to take control of Canwest Global post-restructuring through an agreed debt-for-equity swap are looking for a Canadian partner to invest up to CAN$65 million ($63 million) in the company.

Canwest Global, which includes the Global Television over-the-air TV network and a stable of profitable cable channels, has been in creditor protection since early October as it seeks to get out from under around CAN$4 billion ($3.8 billion) in debt accumulated through a series of acquisitions in better times.

Also up for grabs is Canwest Global's newspaper division, Canwest Limited Partnership, which last week filed for bankruptcy protection under the Companies Creditors' Arrangement Act.

The 10-daily newspaper chain, community newspapers and associated online assets are expected to be secure around CAN$1 billion ($970 million) through a sales process in the works by RBC Capital Markets.

A consortium of senior lenders to Canwest Global, led by Scotiabank, has already put one bid on the table for the publishing arm, setting a floor price beneath the assets.

Other companies said to be eyeing the Canwest LP division include rival publishers Quebecor Media and Torstar Corp.