Shaw's second-quarter earnings slip

Cable operator in court battle for Canwest control

TORONTO -- Canadian cable operator Shaw Communications, stuck in a court battle with Goldman Sachs & Co. for control of restructuring broadcaster Canwest Global Communications Corp., said its second quarter earnings slip on higher debt servicing costs.

Shaw Communications CEO Jim Shaw offered analysts little comment Friday on the Canwest Global restructuring as he awaits an imminent ruling from Ontario Court of Appeals, where Goldman Sachs is looking to stop Shaw acquiring a controlling stake in the debt-laden broadcaster.

"We believe this is a unique opportunity to invest in one of Canada's top broadcasters. ... At this time, we can't comment on the status of that transaction as the matter is currently before the courts," Jim Shaw told analysts.

Shaw in regulatory filings Friday conceded the Canwest Global transaction is far from a done deal. The $95 million bid remains subject to creditor and final court approvals, a regulatory green light, and renegotiating a 2007 shareholders agreement with Goldman Sachs.

The Wall Street bank co-owns 13 cable channels operated by Canwest Global and opposes reopening the 2007 shareholders agreement.

During the latest quarter, Shaw posted a profit of $139 million for the quarter to Feb. 28, against $157 million in 2009, on revenue up 11% to $929.1 million, against a year-earlier $839 million, on acquisitions and subscriber rate increases.

Shaw indicated it lost 1,055 basic cable subscribers during the latest quarter after western Canadian phone giant Telus Corp. rolled out a new Internet-based TV service to offer its subscriber base a triple-play package of phone, TV and internet access services.

Shaw in turn Friday unveiled long-awaited plans to launch a western Canadian wireless phone service in late 2011 to rival Telus as it too pursues a bundling strategy to stay competitive.