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Bell Canada Denies Takeover Rumors

Raymond McConville
News Analysis
Raymond McConville
3/29/2007

Bell Canada is putting down talk that it is looking for a private buyout.

A Canadian newspaper reported this morning that BCE Inc. (Bell Canada) (NYSE/Toronto: BCE) was in talks with private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) about a possible takeover deal.

The reports sent shares of Bell Canada up as high as $29.15 during Tuesday morning trading, just a bit off its 52-week high of $30.02.

Canadian regulations on phone companies would have prevented the New York-based firm from taking a majority stake in the company. KKR was reportedly in talks with the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan as a partner in the deal. The Ontario fund already holds a 5 percent stake in the Canadian communications giant.

The deal, as reported, would be worth approximately $30 billion, which is a 20 percent markup on Bell Canada's $24 billion market cap -- the standard premium typically paid in most mergers and acquisition deals.

KKR could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bell Canada later released a statement saying "there are no ongoing discussions being held with any private equity investor," and there are no plans to "pursue such discussions."

The company's comments have cooled its shares a bit. Shares of Bell Canada were up $1.21 (4.65%) to $27.22 during late morning trading on the NYSE.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

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