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Paper chain delays Alliance sale

Hearing pushed back from Sept. 5 to Nov. 19

CanWest Global and Goldman Sachs have filed so much paper so late in the game that the regulatory hearing into their purchase of Alliance Atlantis’ broadcasting assets, including the 50% interest in the “CSI” franchise, has been delayed by more than two months, much to CanWest’s chagrin.

Canuck watchdog the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission announced Wednesday that the hearing has been put back from Sept. 5 to Nov. 19. The $2 billion deal was announced in January.

“CanWest filed, late last week, 52 documents containing more than 300 pages with marked changes,” said a statement from the regulator. “The CRTC has determined that the extent of the new information is such that interveners should be given a fair opportunity to comment on those documents.”

Interested parties have until Oct. 10 to comment on the new material.

CanWest has said the delay is a domino effect caused by a one-week hold-up in the closing date for the deal, which took place Aug. 15.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” said Leonard Asper, president and CEO of CanWest. “However, we understand and fully appreciate that this is a complex transaction that both the Commission and the interested public want to have an opportunity to review in its entirety.”

Westwind Partners analyst Ben Mogil sounded a cautionary note. “A regulatory delay will only fuel concerns that the current deal may need to be reworked to gain approval, which may leave investors content to sit on the sidelines,” Mogil said in a research item.

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