CanWest hangs in Down Under

Company holds on to Australian properties

TORONTO — Canada’s CanWest Global Communications may have sold its media interests in New Zealand, but it has decided to hang on to its Aussie properties.

CanWest said Monday that it will increase its voting interest in Australia’s Network Ten.

Winnipeg-based CanWest announced in October that it was reviewing its investment in Ten after Australian authorities relaxed the rules on foreign ownership holdings.

Back then, CanWest was carrying a lot of debt and was preparing its war chest for a run at Canada’s Alliance Atlantis Communications, which it acquired in January with Goldman Sachs as equity partner for C$2.3 billion ($2.1 billion), pending regulatory approvals.

The company has since sold its New Zealand holdings to HT Media, a subsid of independent Australian private equity manager Ironbridge Capital PTY, for some $279 million, and rather than sell its Ten stake, it decided to exchange its convertible debentures for voting shares.

Move gives CanWest a controlling equity stake of 56% in Ten, conditional upon foreign ownership approvals.

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