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BCE settles on pension fund

Canadian telco Bell Canada Enterprises revealed on Saturday that it has reached a definitive agreement to be acquired by an investor group led by Teachers Private Capital, the private investment arm of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, Providence Equity Partners and Madison Dearborn Partners.

The all-cash transaction, valued at C$51.7bn (US$48.5bn), including C$16.9 bn (US$15.9 bn) of debt, preferred equity and minority interests, is the largest takeover in Canadian history.

The purchase price represents a 40 per cent premium over the undisturbed average trading price of BCE common shares in the first quarter of 2007, prior to the possibility of a privatisation transaction surfacing publicly. The transaction values BCE at 7.8 times Ebitda for the 12-month period ending March 31, 2007.

“The transaction delivers to our shareholders the economic benefit of the work done to focus on our core business and to strengthen Bell with a new cost structure and new competitive capabilities,” said Michael Sabia, President and CEO of BCE.

The news follows last week’s surprise withdrawal of interest by Canadian mobile operator Telus. Telus said the “inadequacies of BCE’s bid process did not make it possible for Telus to submit an offer.”

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