Shaw's $682 mil bid for WIC tops CanWest

TORONTO — Cable giant Shaw Communications announced a C$975 million ($682 million) offer Friday to purchase any outstanding Class B shares of WIC Western International Communications Ltd., topping a $455 million hostile takeover bid by media rival CanWest Global launched last month.

Shaw’s offer to purchase any and all outstanding class B non-voting shares of WIC for $30.43 per share payable in cash and Class B shares of Shaw, made with the blessing of WIC’s board of directors, is the latest in a bitter power struggle between three of WIC’s major shareholders for control of the Vancouver-based media empire.

Calgary-based Shaw Communications and the Allard family of Edmonton each own 49.9% of WIC’s voting shares but have far less equity in the company. Winnipeg-based CanWest Global Communications Corp. owns more than a third of the company’s equity in Class B non-voting shares but less than 1% of the voting stock. CanWest’s offer last month to buy any outstanding B-Class shares for $27.28 each was part of a plan to increase its equity holdings in the company with the hope of triggering the conversion of non-voting stock to voting stock and thereby gain control of WIC.

“In addition to providing significantly more value than the CanWest Global offer,” said Jim Shaw, Shaw’s prexy and COO in a prepared statement, “our offer provides WIC shareholders who choose to receive Shaw shares with the opportunity for continued participation in a larger, more diversified communications company.” The deal also foils CanWest’s hopes for now.

Shaw is a cable television company which also has interests in radio broadcasting, TV networks and DTH satellite TV services as well as telecommunications and paging services in Canada. WIC owns nine television stations, 12 radio stations, two specialty channels as well as pay TV and pay-per-view services in Canada. CanWest Global owns and operates a TV and a cable network in Canada, two TV networks and a radio network in New Zealand and holds additional TV interests in Australia, Ireland and Northern Ireland.

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