DAILY NEWS Mar 5, 2013 6:37 AM - 0 comments

Shaw, Corus and Bell Ink Specialty Channel Sales Agreements

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Shaw Media, Bell Media and Corus Entertainment have entered into a number of agreements that re-organize their respective specialty channel portfolios.

Shaw has agreed to sell to Corus its interest in ABC Spark, Historia and Series+. Separately, Corus will sell its 20 per cent interest in Food Network Canada to Shaw. As a result of these transactions, Shaw will receive net proceeds of approximately $95 million in cash.

In an unrelated transaction, Corus has entered into an agreement with Bell Media to acquire the remaining interest in the two French language channels.

Shaw will sell to Corus its 50 per cent interest in the French-language specialty channels, Historia and Series+. Separately, Shaw will sell to Corus its 49 per cent interest in ABC Spark.

"Shaw Media is home to the most-loved television brands," said Paul Robertson, President of Shaw Media and Group Vice President, Shaw Communications Inc. "We are continually fine-tuning our portfolio of specialty channels to ensure we connect with audiences and meet the needs and expectations of all our stakeholders."

The sale of Historia and Series+ are subject to regulatory approval. The transactions are not conditional on other asset agreements entered into by Corus.

Corus' agreement with Bell sees it acquiring the 50% remaining ownership interest in TELETOON and two Ottawa-based radio stations, CKQB-FM (The Bear 106.9) and CJOT-FM (boom 99.7), that Bell will acquire as part of the acquisition of Astral Media Inc. pending regulatory approval. With these acquisitions, TELETOON, Télétoon (French), TELETOON Retro, Télétoon Rétro (French), Cartoon Network (Canada) and radio stations, CKQB-FM and CJOT-FM, will be wholly owned by Corus.

Certain transactions are subject to approval by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Competition Bureau.

“These transactions represent a transformative opportunity for Corus,” said John Cassaday, President and Chief Executive Officer, Corus Entertainment. “The consolidation of TELETOON and the addition of the popular services Historia and Séries+ give Corus the scale to expand into the growing French-language specialty television market.  As a well-capitalized company, Corus can contribute to the growth of this market and provide new opportunities for the production community, while adding greater diversity to the system and more choice to French-speaking audiences.

“The addition of the Ottawa radio stations, CKQB-FM and CJOT-FM, has been a long-standing goal and allows us to bring our skills and passion for radio to another major Canadian market, while delivering exceptional programming and local information to the Ottawa community,” he continued. “Finally, full ownership of ABC Spark, based on the highly successful ABC Family channel in the U.S., and now widely distributed across Canada, represents an excellent growth opportunity for Corus.”

The combined acquisition price for the Bell-Corus assets is $494 million CDN; the overall transaction is valued at an LTM EBITDA multiple of 10.4x.

Meanwhle, Bell has received Competition Bureau clearance for the transaction that will join Astral Media with Bell Media. The transaction also requires approval by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

The Competition Bureau's announcement is the result of an agreement under which Bell will sell a number of Astral TV services. Bell Media will retain eight Astral TV services: the French-language SuperÉcran, CinéPop, Canal Vie, Canal D, VRAK TV, and Z Télé, and English-language services The Movie Network, which includes HBO Canada, and TMN Encore.

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