The trend to “convergence” of telecommunications, media and entertainment firms continues with the announcement on September 15, 2000 that BCE Inc., the Thomson Corporation and the Woodbridge Company Limited are combining to create a new $4 billion media enterprise that will combine a number of Canada’s leading media brands, including: CTV; The Globe and Mail; and Sympatico-Lycos.
The new venture is the latest in a series of convergence deals that have swept through the Canadian market this year, including BCE’s acquisition of CTV, CanWest Global Communication’s Corp.’s acquisition of more than 200 publications from Hollinger Inc., Quebecor’s acquisition of Groupe Videotron and Rogers Communications recent decision to buy into the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team.
Under the deal, BCE will control 70.1 per cent of the new company and contribute the CTV network and interests in 13 specialty channels. In addition, BCE will fold its 71 per cent stake in Sympatico-Lycos. Thomson will own 20 per cent of the new company in exchange for The Globe and Mail, nine of the newspaper’s Internet sites and its 50 per cent interest in specialty business channel ROBTv. The Thomson family’s Woodbridge company, a Toronto holding company that owns 73 per cent of Thomson, will contribute $385 million in exchange for a 9.9 per cent interest in the new company.
Torys is acting for Thomson and Woodbridge on the deal with a team that includes Ed Nordholm, Michael Siltala, David Seville, Ken McCarter, Jim Welkoff (tax) and Peter Aziz. Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP is acting for BCE, with a team that includes Clay Horner, John Leddy and Doug Bryce (corporate), Firoz Ahmed and Steve Suarez (tax). The BCE in-house team was led by Martine Turcotte and Rudy Barber.