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CNM Short Takes

News | 12/09/2005 5:00 am EST

Bell Globemedia opens up to Teachers’, Torstar
BCE Inc. has relinquished some of its hold on media juggernaut Bell Globemedia. The firm recently announced that it would take a $1.3 billion payment to pare back its stake in Globemedia to 20%, with Woodbridge Co. Ltd. – controlled by Ken Thomson, one-time owner of the Globe and Mail newspaper, a jewel in the Globemedia crown – increasing its share of the media conglomerate to 40%. Holding the remaining 40% will be new partners Torstar Corp. – publisher of the Toronto Star newspaper – and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (Teachers’), with a 20% share each. In a December 2 conference call to discuss the news with analysts, BCE president and CEO Michael Sabia said the deal reinforces the value BCE has seen all along in the various properties held within Globemedia. "I’ve said on a number of occasions that we regard the assets inside Globemedia as really platinum assets…that are performing well," Sabia said.Sabia noted that the CTV televison network and the Globe and Mail have led the competition in their respective industries, and have contributed to Globemedia posting annual revenue gains of approximately 6% a year since 2001. "Our goal in working with our partner Woodbridge on this transaction has very much been to build on those five years of momentum…and to structure a transaction that could really pave the way for another five years, 10 years or whatever it is of incremental and additional leadership and growth in this business," he said, explaining the new inclusion of Torstar and Teachers’. In a news release, Sabia also reaffirmed BCE’s plans to move ahead with mobile TV and other new media offerings under the Globemedia aegis.Earlier this year, Thomson and Woodbridge offered $1.5 billion to take back the Globe and Mail, a move that was coolly received by BCE at the time (TM, March 4/05).

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