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Woodbridge makes Bell Globemedia offer

Billionaire seeks remaining 70% stake in company

TORONTO A Canuck media take-over battle is heating up with reports that reclusive billionaire Kenneth Thomson’s holding company Woodbridge has put a C$1.5 billion ($1.2 billion) offer on the table to BCE for the 70% of Bell Globemedia that it does not already own.

Bell Globemedia owns the CTV Network, the specialty channel TSN and the national daily newspaper the Globe & Mail.

The National Post Newspaper reported on Monday that the offer has been languishing for some months, with Bell Globemedia declining to negotiate and Woodbridge management becoming increasingly frustrated.

It’s certainly a seller’s market in Canada now, with broadcasters such as Corus, Astral and CanWest Global expressing an interest in expanding their content operations, but lamenting a lack of entities for sale.

If the deal were to go through, the newspaper part would be déjà vu all over again for Thomson. The Globe & Mail was the flagship paper of the family-controlled Thomson Corp. from 1980 to 2000.

Such a deal would also be the first foray of Thomson, who’s 82, into the television biz, however, and the new entity would dwarf its closest competitor, Winnipeg-based CanWest Global, another media giant which, as owner of the National Post Newspaper and the Global Television Network, is heavily invested in both television and newspapers in Canada, as well as media holdings abroad.

With a combined value of $17 billion, Thomson and family are listed as the 15th wealthiest in the world, according to Forbes’ Richest People list.

The notoriously secretive Woodbridge is a subsidiary of Woodbridge Group of London, which holds a 69% stake in Thomson Corp., a publicly-traded electronic media and information services company.

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