Shaw offer a ‘significant step’ for Canwest, co says

Canwest's John Douglas says that it will be business as usual for the next six months as Shaw's investment in the company goes through regulatory process.

It wasn’t just the thought of upcoming gold medals on Canadian soil that was making executives at Canwest smile today, as the news broke this morning that Shaw Communications has entered into agreements to take effective control of the restructured company.

‘This is a significant step forward in the financial restructuring of Canwest,’ John Douglas, senior VP, public affairs, Canwest, tells MiC. ‘I see it as a huge vote of confidence in the Canwest company, and the people that work here. If we look at it, what we have is a really strong, well capitalized Canada company with a solid track record, putting down a significant amount of money and investing it in our operations, which is good not only for today but into the future.’

The company has increased revenues and market share despite the recession and bankruptcy filings, Douglas says, and credits the year of ‘right-sizing’ the business and positioning the company to come out of the downturn strongly for attracting Shaw’s interest. As Shaw’s announcement of the agreement stated this morning, Canwest will remain a standalone company with its own board of directors and its own managers.

It’s too soon to tell what changes will be made in the business if and when the agreement is finalized, he says. First, the deal must go through creditor approval, CRTC review, and court approval before Shaw officially makes its investment (of 20% equity interest and 80% voting interest) in Canwest. This is estimated to take six months and in the meantime, it will be business as usual at Canwest, he says.

This, he continues, applies to the company’s advertisers and the media agency community as well.

‘I think that makes Canwest stand out compared to other media companies is the strong relationships that we have with the agencies and our advertisers. I know first thing this morning, we reached out to all of them to explain the situation and we are extremely pleased and proud of the way that our advertisers have stood by us through the restructuring process and it’s an ongoing relationship that we look forward to continuing.’

For media community reaction on today’s annoucement, click here.