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Rogers on deck to take control of Blue Jays

Purchase approval expected within two months

VANCOUVER — Canuck media giant Rogers Communications is expected to finalize a deal this weekend to buy control of the cash-strapped Toronto Blue Jays baseball team for $120 million from its absentee owner Interbrew, the Belgian beermaker.

Rogers wants the team so it can control lucrative radio and television rights. Media conglom CanWest Global had earlier expressed interest in buying the Blue Jays, but dropped out of contention last month when it swallowed most of Hollinger’s Canadian newspapers.

Rogers would hold a majority stake in the club, with Interbrew retaining a 20% stake, according to the Toronto Star. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce will give up its 10% share.

Approval expected

Major League Baseball is expected to approve the Rogers deal within the next two months.

Move by Rogers is part of a scramble by the country’s three major media and communications firms to grab Canadian content providers. Bell Canada Enterprises, Canada’s largest telecommunications firm, has a stranglehold on leading web CTV. CanWest Global controls the No. 2 net.

Rogers, Canada’s largest wireless and cable TV service provider, owns 30 radio stations, a multicultural television station in Toronto, interests in three cable programming services, more than 50 periodicals and directory products and a new-media division.

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