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Shareholder battles hurt WIC’s earnings

Q3 results reflect $4.1 mil takeover advisory charge

TORONTO — A heated third-quarter battle for control among shareholders of Western International Communications Ltd. has begun to show up in WIC’s nine-month operating results, released by the company Wednesday.

Earnings for the nine-month period ended May 31, 1998 were C$19.8 million ($13.4 million), or 52 cents a share, a robust 49% improvement over the $9.0 million, or 36 cents a share, reported for the same period last year. That figure gets a substantial boost from WIC’s sale last November of its interest in CTV Television Network, which was responsible for the majority of $5.7 million that the company received in investment income for the period.

The company also announced Wednesday the appointment of longtime WIC director Harold Roozen as chairman of the board, replacing Robert Brodie, who becomes deputy chairman.

Advisory costs

Although WIC will not be breaking its third-quarter out of its nine-month results until next week, it did release its third-quarter earnings, and it’s here that the cost of the fight for control kicks in. A $4.1 million charge for takeover advisory costs helped bring the quarterly earnings down 54%, to $1.9 million from the $4.1 million reported in the third quarter of ’97. “That was a pretty substantial figure which really knocked the income,” said WIC spokesman Terry O’Donovan, “but everyone’s aware of the trials and tribulations of the last couple of months.”

This could be one of the Vancouver-based media giant’s final operating results. Shaw Communications, which emerged a winner in the scrap for control of WIC, recently stated that it is negotiating with adversary CanWest Global and others for a division-of-assets deal, and that should bear fruit by the end of August.

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