BCE to take Bell Aliant private for C$3.95bn
Source: totaltele.com View: 227 Date: 2014-07-24

BCE on Wednesday announced it will take its regional subsidiary Bell Aliant private by offering to purchase the shares it does not already own in a deal worth C$3.95 billion (€2.74 billion).

Bell Aliant provides quad-play services to 5.3 million customers on Canada’s east coast, as well as rural areas of Ontario and Quebec.

"Bell Aliant is a core part of BCE’s national communications operations alongside Bell Canada. Privatising Bell Aliant enhances our broadband investment strategy and capital markets objectives while delivering great value to the public minority shareholders who have supported Bell Aliant’s success," said George Cope, CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, in a statement.

BCE reiterated its commitment to invest C$2.1 billion over the next five years in its networks and services in the areas Bell Aliant operates. The investment will extend fibre-to-the-home coverage to 1 million premises across Bell Aliant’s operating footprint.

In addition, BCE announced that the next phase of its LTE deployment will cover 100 small towns and rural communities on Canada’s Atlantic coast. It has also agreed to acquire two call centres in New Brunswick in order to improve customer service.

"As a result of the privatisation, Bell Aliant will be able to combine its product and service strength, and cost management skills, with the world class communications networks and operations of Bell Canada, delivering even more value to our customers," said Bell Aliant CEO Karen Sheriff. "Furthermore, Bell Aliant’s heritage of delivering value to its customers through technological innovation and strong local presence will be further strengthened by the full backing of BCE."

BCE said taking Bell Aliant private will generate annual synergies of C$100 million (€69.1 million), and contribute C$200 million to its annual run-rate free cash flow.

The cash and stock deal equates to C$31 (€21.4) per share, and there are approximately 127.5 million shares outstanding. BCE said it will fund the cash component of the deal using its cash resources and will issue around 61 million common shares for the stock component.

BCE expects to complete the acquisition by the end of November, subject to regulatory approval and 50% of Bell Aliant’s common stockholders tendering their shares.


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