Sunday, January 24

Cogeco Board of Directors to study Altice and Rogers offer

Despite the “final refusal” of the Audet family, the hostile offer increased to 11.1 billion presented by Altice USA and Rogers will be examined by the boards of directors of Cogeco and its main subsidiary.

However, it was not possible on Monday to know how long it will take, since in a joint statement, the two companies did not specify when a decision would be rendered. The day before, the American company and the Canadian telecommunications giant had returned to the charge by increasing their proposal by 800 million, valid until November 18.

But if boards of directors want to be serious in their efforts, this process should take place over a few weeks, said Richard Leblanc, professor of governance, law and ethics at York University, in a telephone interview. . “It’s not just the financial parameters, but also the guarantees offered by Rogers since the unveiling of the first offer [le 2 septembre]. All of these must be taken into consideration. “

Along with maintaining the Cogeco brand and its Montreal head office, the Ontario company has notably promised to create 300 jobs through the establishment of an innovation center in Quebec and to retain all of the employees of the combined entity on Quebec soil, i.e. around 5,000 people.

Investments of $ 3 billion over the next five years are planned, although it is not yet clear what would constitute new money compared to what is already planned. In the aftermath of the new offensive by Altice USA and Rogers, analysts wondered, Monday, if Altice USA and Rogers were going to return to the charge. “We believe buyers are hoping for more visible support from [des autres actionnaires] who they believe could in turn put pressure on independent board members [de Cogeco et sa filiale] Among others, wrote Aravinda Galappatthige of Cannacord Genuity.

Altice USA and Rogers are offering an additional 100 million – for a total of 900 million – to convince Gestion Audem, the company which manages the assets of the Audet family and whose agreement is essential to any transaction. Thanks to its shares with multiple voting rights, it controls 69% of the votes at Cogeco and 82.9% on the side of Cogeco Communications, even though it only holds a small minority of the outstanding securities.

The mechanics of the offer from Altice USA and Rogers are based on a sharing of the assets of Cogeco and its main subsidiary. Atlantic Broadband, now valued at 5.1 billion and in which the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec has a 21% stake, would be in the fold of the American company. The Canadian operations of the company, founded in 1957, which are present in cable distribution, Internet services and residential telephony, in addition to having 23 radio stations in Quebec and Ontario, would be sold to Rogers. The new offer gives them a value of 6 billion.

La Caisse reiterated that it remained “aligned” with the Audet family and its growth strategy south of the border, where Atlantic Broadband is the ninth largest cable operator in the American market thanks to its presence in 11 states on the east coast. .

Altice USA and Rogers are now offering $ 123 for each of the remaining subordinate shares, up from $ 106.53 initially, and $ 150 for each stock of Cogeco Communications, compared to $ 134.22 previously.

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