The board of Canada's largest communications concern, Bell Canada Enterprises, agreed over the weekend to take the company private in the largest leveraged buy out in market history. Bell Canada directors agreed to a $48.5 billion acquisition by a triad of investors led by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.
BCE is the self-described largest digital TV provider in the nation, with 1.82 million subscribers at the end of '06. The telco initially launched video service via satellite 10 years ago, and in 2004, over Very High Speed DSL. BCE was in fact the first North American telco to test the Microsoft IPTV platform, according to CNET.
BCE reported revenues of $16.6 billion last year, including $1.15 billion from the video unit.
Canada's No. 2 telco, Telus, circled BCE a few times before unceremoniously dropping out last week. The New York Times reported on speculation that Telus might return with a counter bid, in spite of a $752 million break-up fee.
Going private is the latest trend among media properties, especially in the United States, where the Internet is cannibalizing more traditional forms. In terms of management, private companies have more flexibility and are not prone to manipulation by hedge funds.