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CRTC Approves Ontario Teachers’ Acquisition of BCE, Subject to Conditions


30/03/2008

Canadian telecom and broadcasting regulator has given its tentative not of approval to a $52 billion leveraged buyout of Canada’s biggest telecommunications provider, BCE Inc., subject to conditions that will “Canadianize” the bid.

CRTC regulators said that the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which will acquire BCE in partnership with three U.S. private equity firms, must appoint two of the company’s five executive committee members, and that they, along with the Chief Executive Officer, must be Canadian citizens.

“These conditions will ensure that control of BCE remains in Canadian hands,” said CRTC chairman, Konrad von Finckenstein, in a release.

One of the CRTC’s other conditions may jeopardize the deal, however, potentially opening it up to legal challenges based on an Ontario law preventing pension funds from owning more than 30% of voting shares in a company. Regulators said that their approval would be null and void if BCE’s new ownership structure “is successfully challenged in a court of competent jurisdiction.”

BCE bondholders are already in the process of their own legal challenge to overturn the proposed acquisition, and will be arguing the case in a Quebec appellate court next month.

Ontario Teachers’ spokeswoman, Deborah Allan, stated that her organization is “reviewing the conditions … we don’t have any comment.”



 

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