Quebecor Ups Bid For Osprey

By: E&P Staff Quebecor Media Inc. increased its bid for Ontario newspaper publisher Osprey Media Income Fund after a judge refused to block a rival offer from Black Press Ltd.

Quebecor is now offering C$8.45 (US$7.99) per unit of Osprey in a bid valued at C$414.3 million (US$391.7 million). The new offer is 20 Canadian cents higher than Black Press per-unit offer.

"Quebecor Media hopes that after reviewing in good faith the amended offer, the board of trustees of Osprey Media will determine that the previously announced offer from Black Press Ltd. to acquire all of the units at a price of $8.25 per unit in cash no longer constitutes a superior proposal," Quebecor said in a statement.

In June, Osprey, publisher of 20 Ontario dailies and 34 weeklies, agreed to be acquired by Quebecor for C$7.25 per unit in a deal valued at C$355.5 million (US$334 million). But Victoria, British Columbia-based Black Press made a last-minute bid of C$8.25 (US$7.72) per unit of Osprey, an offer that would be worth about C$404 million (US$377 million).

Quebecor argued that Black Press violated a standstill clause in its acquisition agreement, and could not be viewed as a "superior proposal."

But Thursday an Ontario Superior Court judge refused to block the Black bid.

"I am satisfied with the actions of the Osprey board," Justice Colin Campbell said, according to an account in Friday's Toronto Star by business reporter Rita Trichur.

Black Press, principally owned by CEO David Black and family, publishes the Akron Beacon Journal in addition to its Canadian papers.

Osprey's Ontario dailies include the Kingston Whig-Standard, Pembroke Daily Observer, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder, Belleville Intelligencer, and Peterborough Examiner.


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