CanWest may sell New Zealand, Australia assets

CanWest Global Communications Corp is reportedly considering selling off its interests in New Zealand and Australia to help finance a $C2.1 billion ($2.64 billion) bid in Canada for television group Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc.

CanWest, based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, has teamed up with merchant bank Goldman Sachs and Co to bid for the Toronto-based Alliance's 13 television channels, Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper said, citing unnamed banking and media sources.

CanWest, Canada's biggest media company, owns 70 per cent of CanWest MediaWorks (NZ), the parent company of TVWorks and RadioWorks.

TVWorks operates TV3 and C4 in New Zealand, and RadioWorks operates several national radio brands as well as a number of local stations throughout the country.

Brisbane's Courier Mail newspaper today reported that CanWest may bid for Alliance if it can unload its Channel 10 TV network in Australia, and its smaller list of assets in New Zealand.

CanWest said last month that it was exploring a sale of Channel 10.

"Such sales would likely give CanWest the financial flexibility to pursue a Canadian deal and give it specialty TV assets such as those held by Alliance," the Courier Mail said.

Debt-rating agencies would likely look closely at any new loans taken on by CanWest, as some analysts last year expressed concern about the pace of the company's debt-reduction efforts.

According to CanWest's financial filings, it had long term debt of $C2.67 billion on its balance sheet as of the end of August.

CanWest and Goldman have declined to comment.

- NZPA

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