BCE buyout in the bag

7 Jul 2008

Canada’s largest telecoms group BCE said on Friday it had finalised terms of a CAD51.7 billion (USD51.9 billion) cash and debt takeover by a private equity consortium led by the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, including Providence, Madison Dearborn, Merrill Lynch and Toronto-Dominion Bank (TDB). The transaction will close on or before 11 December according to BCE’s statement, which ended fears that the banks funding the deal – Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and TDB – would threaten to back out if the price was not lowered. The cash portion of the leveraged buyout is around CAD35 billion, with the per-share value remaining at its original agreed level of CAD42.75. Last month, Canada’s Supreme Court gave the deal the all-clear after quashing appeals from BCE bondholders which claimed their interests had been unfairly disregarded. Shares in BCE, the parent of full-service telcos Bell Canada and Bell Aliant, rose by more than 12% on the Toronto exchange following Friday’s announcement.