CanWest takes Alliance

Court backs $2.1 billion dollar take-over

MONTREAL — Despite fears of a last-minute block, the Ontario Superior Court on Thursday approved CanWest Global Communications’ C$2.3 billion ($2.1 billion) takeover of broadcaster Alliance Atlantis Communications.

The court ruling comes after a fairness hearing held earlier in the day in Toronto.

The hearing had been expected to be a contentious affair because of a dispute over the value of Motion Picture Distribution, Canada’s leading film distributor, which is 51% owned by AAC and 49% by the Movie Distribution Income Fund.

The Movie Distribution Income Fund trustees had planned to block the CanWest/AAC deal because they felt they weren’t getting a fair price for their stake in the distrib.

But the controversy evaporated earlier this week when EdgeStone Capital Partners and Goldman Sachs announced a $180 million deal to buy the Movie Distribution Income Fund’s stake in Motion Picture Distribution, pending approvals, with EdgeStone controlling the company.

When CanWest inked to take over AAC in January, it was announced that Goldman Sachs would buy AAC’s 51% stake in Motion Picture Distribution.

The deal, which must get regulatory approval from broadcast watchdog the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, is expected to close in early August. The CRTC would presumably hold public hearings shortly thereafter.

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