Canwest keeping feds ‘in the loop’

High level contact between execs and CRTC continues as company restructures.

Canwest Global Communications has established a hotline to the CRTC to explain its ongoing corporate restructuring – maintaining regular and high-level contact between the troubled broadcaster and the feds – but has not yet raised the thorny issue of complex foreign ownership structures.

‘You have to keep them in the loop. They will have a say,’ said Canwest Global spokesman John Douglas on Monday. ‘But we have not made any presentations to [CRTC commissioners], nor have we arranged any time to do that.’

The Globe and Mail reported on Monday that Canwest has ‘taken the first steps’ to discussing a new ownership structure, a story Douglas says was speculation.

In May, Canwest first signaled that one milestone it needs to reach in order to successfully complete debt talks with US bondholders and senior lenders would be to open talks with the CRTC on its restructuring process.

As those talks have progressed, the issue of how to structure a likely debt-for-equity deal between Canwest Global and its American bondholders that will conform with Canada’s stringent foreign ownership rules has come up.

The CRTC has recent experience considering complex foreign ownership structures, not least with Canwest’s 2007 deal with Goldman Sachs & Co. to acquire Alliance Atlantis Communications for $2.3 billion, and the more recent proposed BCE privatization, which involved US equity players.

Douglas added that Canwest is making progress on completing a balance sheet restructuring of its varied media holdings by Oct. 31.

‘We’ve seen people working towards an agreement, sometimes faster and sometimes a little slower. But we continue to head in the right direction,’ he added.

CEP last week said it had ‘serious concerns’ about a possible changing of the guard at Canwest.