Canwest faces TSX delisting

Another hurdle for the ailing giant. Ontario court okays recap plan amid grumbles from Goldman Sachs.

Canwest Global Communications faces delisting from the Toronto Stock Exchange, effective Nov. 13, after it last week buckled under the pressure of debt and interest expense and filed for creditor protection.

The debt-laden broadcaster and newspaper publisher, which saw its stock suspended last week at 23.5 cents on the TSX, has until Wednesday to appeal the delisting notice. A Canwest Global spokesman said no decision has yet been made on whether to appeal.

One possible scenario could see Canwest Global’s subordinated voting and non-voting stock delisted in November, after which a restructured, strengthened broadcaster could make a bid for a relisting early in 2010. As part of Canwest Global’s proposed restructuring, existing shareholders are to hold a 2.5% stake in the broadcaster after it emerges from court protection.

The threatened TSX delisting, for failure to meet continued listing requirements, is the latest hurdle Canwest Global confronts as it looks to restructure.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Sarah Pepall this week approved a bid by Canwest Global to complete by January a recapitalization plan that includes a debt-for-equity swap by U.S. bondholders and senior lenders. But while the 13 specialty channels acquired from the former Alliance Atlantis Communications two years ago by Canwest Global and financing partner Goldman Sachs & Co. remain outside last week’s court protection filing, lawyers for the Wall Street investment bank warned Justice Pepall that they will take legal action if Canwest Global alters or reopens their 2007 deal. Goldman Sachs lawyers expressed concerns that Canwest Global will use its filing under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to secure better terms for when it eventually buys out the U.S. investment bank’s stake in the 13 specialty channels.

Also not part of the prepackaged filing is Canwest Global’s newspaper division, CanWest LP. The debt-laden division, which excludes National Post, is in its own talks with creditors and is expected to shortly file for creditor protection.

From Playback Daily