CanWest reduces its Ten stake

SYDNEY — Izzy Asper’s CanWest Global Communications has agreed to sell a large chunk of its 76% interest in Oz’s Network Ten, after intense pressure from federal regulators. CanWest will sell $219 million-$365 million worth of its stake.

Late last week, the Canadian company, along with locally controlled Ten regional affiliate Telecasters North Queensland (TNQ), unveiled a complex pact. Under the plan, TNQ will acquire 18.7% of CanWest’s 76% equity in Ten — which has been ruled in breach of rules forbidding foreigners controlling TV webs or more than 15% of voting stock.

If approved by the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Foreign Investment Review Board, the deal will bring the Canadian company back down to the 57.5% economic interest and 15% voting stake it held before a string of complex share deals in 1996 gave CanWest interests a 76% economic holding and 52% voting stake.

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