Friday, March 16, 2012

Bell Media buys Astral Media for 3.38 billion

Canada's largest telecommunications company BCE Inc. has reached an agreement to buy Astral Media Inc. for $3.38 billion. The transaction will give the Montreal-based company a slate of media assets that include television channels and radio stations across the country. BCE, which owns Bell Media, says the agreement includes $380 million in debt. Astral owns dozens of radio station in Ontario alone.  Among the locals are Newstalk 1010 (once known as CFRB)  Boom 87.3, Oldies 1150 in Hamilton and EZ Rock 105.7. The deal is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval from the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission. Astral is Canada's largest radio broadcaster with 80 radio stations in 54 markets including NewsTalk 1010, BOOM 97.3 and Virgin Radio 99.9 here in Toronto. It is also the country's largest broadcaster of English- and French-language pay and specialty TV services including The Movie Network, HBO Canada, Viewers Choice, Teletoon and the Family Channel. Bell Media owns 33 radio stations including here in Toronto, CHUM-FM, FLOW and TSN Radio. On the TV side, big holdings including CTV, CP-24, TSN, Much Music, Discovery, Animal Planet. 75 per cent of the deal will be in cash while 25 per cent will be in BCE common stocks. Ian Greenburg, the CEO of Astral calls the transaction "an excellent transaciton for Astral, it's shareholder sand employees." He calls the fit with Bell "a natural." A news conference was set for 9:45 a.m., Friday, in Montreal to announce the details of the sale.

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