Feb 22, 2010

Canwest tricks … Banks down the gurgler … Land of hope and glory

There's a bunfight going on over Canwest's TV businness; US banks are still struggling, as is the property market; Ireland is still short of a quid; and the sherry is at the ready as the country waits for the latest economic figures.

Glenn Dyer — <em>Crikey</em> business and media commentator

Glenn Dyer

Crikey business and media commentator

Canwest latest: Tricky Aspers, Vampire squid strike. These two effectively sank Canwest, the Canadian media group that once owned the Ten Network in Australia, via a combination of overweening ambition, too much debt and investment banking greed. That saw Canwest gradually implode and collapse last year with the TV and newspapers going under about $C4 billion in debt, much of it provided by Goldman and borrowed by the ambitious Lenny Asper. Now the TV business looks like being sold to Shaw Communications after a Canadian Court OKed the sale of Canwest Global Communications over the weekend. But not before Asper, Goldman Sachs and a Canadian private equity fund lobbed a last-minute, apparently higher bid at 3.30am on Friday, Canadian time, just before the court hearing, and then argued in court for a postponement until Monday to allow their offer to be assessed.

We’ll walk. Upset at the Asper-driven attempt to gazump them, Shaw threatened to pull its bid and walk from the court, which, after a long hearing, approved the sale of Canwest Global for $C85 million in cash for 20%, plus 80% of the votes, and negotiations on the huge debts taken on by Lenny Asper and his boardroom mates. Now Shaw has to win over Goldman Sachs, which has a three-year deal that effectively gives it control over the entire TV business. How so?

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