The Globe and Mail has reported that Canwest Global Communications Corp. could have to file for bankruptcy protection from its creditors by the end of the month.
This comes on the heels of a Reuters story on February 12, which also suggested that Canwest could have to file for bankruptcy protection. The Reuters story earlier this month quoted CIBC World Markets analyst Bob Bek.
Today’s Globe story, on the other hand, relied on unnamed sources, who suggested that the Asper family could lose control of the media giant, which owns the Vancouver Sun, Province, National Post, Global TV network, and many other community and daily newspapers.
The Globe reported that Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., which is a minority shareholder, might want to take control of the company. One unnamed Globe source suggested that Leonard Asper, son of founder Izzy Asper, might have to step down as president and CEO.
The Aspers have retained control through a dual-class share structure, which gives the family the ability to elect the board of directors.
Canwest has a $3.7-billion debt, which has become more difficult to service in a tougher advertising market.
It bought the Southam chain of newspapers in 2000 from Hollinger Inc. just as the dot-com bubble was bursting. In January, 2007, Canwest bought Alliance Atlantis Communications for $2.3 billion, thanks to financing from Goldman Sachs.
Canwest shares were trading at more than $18 when the company bought the Hollinger papers. Shares were trading near $11 when the Alliance Atlantis deal closed.
Today, Canwest shares fell to 35 cents after the Globe story appeared.