Shaw Communications Inc. will now have a rival in its quest to gain control of Canwest Global Communications. Toronto-based private equity fund, Catalyst Capital Group, will be launching a CDN$120 million bid for a 32% stake and voting control of the beleaguered company. While the Shaw bid, which would see the company purchase an equity stake of 20% of Canwest and voting control for an undisclosed figure, has the support of the majority of Canwest creditors, the Catalyst bid comes with the backing of Goldman Sachs, the investment bank that is also a co-owner of Canwest’s 13 specialty channels through the CW Media Holdings J.V., as well as the company’s founding family, the Aspers. Both bids are for Canwest’s TV operations only, with the company’s newspaper division being sold separately.
If the Catalyst deal goes through, Leonard Asper, currently the company’s CEO, will remain as non-executive chairman. If Shaw’s bid is the victor, then Asper would probably leave his position. The Catalyst group announced via press release that two former senior executives from Rogers Communications are also involved in its bid: John Tory, who once ran Rogers’ cable TV division, and former Rogers Broadcasting Limited president and CEO Rael Merson, who would be the proposed CEO of Canwest if the Catalyst bid wins.