BCE to acquire Astral Media

The Canadian phone giant has agreed to pay CDN$3.38 billion for the Montreal-based media group.
March 16, 2012

Phone giant BCE has agreed to pay CDN $3.38 billion for Astral Media to strengthen the telecom group’s content presence in Quebec against rival Quebecor Media.

BCE, which last year acquired the former CTVglobemedia as yet another content play, will acquire all outstanding shares of Astral Media.

That hands BCE control of Astral’s specialty and pay TV channels, radio stations, digital media properties and out-of-home advertising platforms nationwide.

The deal, which is subject to CRTC approval, includes around $380 million in assumed debt, and will be funded by around 75% in cash to acquire Astral equity, and another 25%, or $750 million, in BCE common equity.

“Bringing together two respected and longstanding Montreal brands, Bell’s acquisition of Astral firmly establishes our company as Quebec’s media leader,” BCE president and CEO George Cope said Friday in a statement.

“Bell is gaining a well-seasoned national Astral management team, dramatically expanding our French-language content, and more than levelling the playing field with our largest broadcast media competitor in Quebec,” Cope added.

Astral CEO Ian Greenberg, who along with three brothers 50 years ago started what today stands as a dominant Canadian media group, is to sit on the BCE board of directors on the closing of the deal.

“This transaction with Bell represents an exciting moment in the history of Astral, and an excellent opportunity for our company, our shareholders and our employees,” Greenberg said in his own statement Friday.

(From Playback Daily)

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.