BCE buys Astral

Article Excerpt

BCE INC. $40.21 (Toronto symbol BCE; Shares outstanding: 775.6 million; Market cap: $31.2 billion; TSINetwork Rating: Above Average; Dividend yield: 5.4%; www.bce.ca) is buying Astral Media Inc. (Toronto symbols ACM.A and ACM.B). The move follows BCE’s recent $533 million purchase of 37.5% of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Montreal-based Astral owns 22 TV stations, 84 radio stations and several pay TV and specialty channels, such as The Movie Network, Family Channel and Teletoon. It also owns billboards and sells other outdoor advertising services in Quebec, Ontario and B.C. The purchase price is $3.4 billion, including $380 million of Astral’s debt. BCE will pay roughly 75% of this cost in cash and 25% in common shares. To put this purchase in context, BCE earned $2.4 billion, or $3.13 a share, in 2011. If Astral accepts a higher offer from another buyer, it will pay BCE a $100-million break fee. BCE will probably have to sell some of its current media assets to win regulatory…

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