CanWest skeds Kiwi media IPO

Co. expects to raise about $72 million, lay off debt

This article was updated on May 20, 2004.

AUCKLAND — Canuck media company CanWest Global Communications has confirmed a June 29 initial public offering for a minority stake — expected to be 30% — in its New Zealand operations. Further divestment is likely to follow.

A prospectus will be launched June 9 for the newly named CanWest Mediaworks.

The IPO closes on June 29 and is expected to be for 30% of the company that includes two TV webs, mainstream TV3 and terrestrial music channel C4. The shares will be issued soon after and the company will be listed on the local stock exchange in July.

Radio interests lie in a division that comprises half the commercial stations in this country of 4 million.

Winnipeg-based CanWest is cashing in to lay off debt on its Canadian operations and says it expects to raise about $72 million from the issue of 68 million ordinary full-paid shares.

If there is demand, an additional 13.6 million shares are available. CanWest hopes that could raise a further $14 million and reduce its stake to 64%.

The share issue is a bonus for the local media market, which is controlled out of Australia.

Rupert Murdoch’s satcaster Sky Network TV is the only media company trading on local company the NZSX.

But given the scale of CanWest debt, there is likely to be renewed speculation that CanWest will make a trade sale for remaining stock in the future.