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CanWest, Goldman Sachs buy Alliance Atlantis for $2.3B
CanWest Global Communications Corp. and the private equity firm Goldman Sachs Capital Partners confirmed late Wednesday that they are buying Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. ó one of Canada’s biggest entertainment companies.
The CanWest and Goldman Sachs groups will pay $53 for each Class A and Class B share of Alliance Atlantis. The companies say that values the deal at $2.3 billion.
The takeover offer is less than the price Alliance Atlantis stock closed at Wednesday. The Class A voting shares ended the trading day at $54.18, while the Class B non-voting shares closed at $53.61.
Shareholders owning 80 per cent of the Class A shares have committed to tender their shares to the offer, the companies said. Holders of the Class B shares will be asked to vote in favour of the deal at a meeting to be held in the spring.
“The combined expertise of CanWest and Alliance Atlantis will enable us to produce even better Canadian content, promote it more effectively, and provide greater access to more viewers across more platforms,” said CanWest CEO Leonard Asper in a release.
A CanWest company will be the controlling shareholder of Alliance Atlantis once the deal is finalized by mid-2007. CRTC approval will be required for the deal to proceed.
The companies say Alliance Atlantis’ specialty television business and CanWest’s Canadian television business will be combined, but not before 2011.
A Canadian partner of Goldman Sachs Capital Partners will ultimately control Alliance Atlantis’ Motion Picture Distribution business, which is a major distributor of motion pictures in Canada.
The GS group will also own Alliance Atlantis’ stake in the highly lucrative CSI television franchise. Alliance Atlantis now co-produces the various CSI dramas with CBS.
Confirmation of a deal came just hours after the companies acknowledged they were in exclusive takeover talks. That acknowledgement followed media reports earlier in the week that said CanWest and Goldman Sachs had teamed up to make a run at Alliance Atlantis.
Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis said on Dec. 20 that it was exploring its “strategic alternatives,” and said it had sought expressions of interest from selected potential buyers.
Alliance Atlantis owns 13 specialty television channels, including Showcase ó which airs the Trailer Park Boys series. It also owns Discovery Health, the Food Network, HGTV, History Television and the Life Network.