Surprise Black Press Offer Outbids Quebecor For Osprey Media

By: E&P Staff In a last-minute surprise bid, Black Press Ltd. has made an offer for Osprey Media Income Fund that tops the bid from Quebecor Inc., Osprey said Wednesday.

Osprey said Black Press, the private Vancouver, B.C.-based publisher of 150 community papers, has offered to pay C$8.25 (US$7.72) per unit of the income fund, in a deal that would be worth about C$404 million (US$377 million).

Quebecor Media -- which was poised to become Canada's biggest newspaper chain with the addition of Osprey's 20 dailies and 34 weeklies in Ontario -- earlier this month offered C$7.25 per unit in a deal valued at C$355.5 million (US$334 million). That deal had been expected to close next month.

Quebecor's offer represented about a 30% premium on the price Osprey units were trading in March, when the chain announced it was exploring a possible sale.

In Toronto Stock Exchange trading Wednesday, Osprey units were bid up C$1.03, or 14 percent, to C$8.25, the Black Press offer price.

Osprey said Quebecor has until July 5 to amend its offer, or it will terminate the sales agreement.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Quebecor said it was "considering its course of action" to respond to the new development.

But the company also suggested that Black Press, which is 19% owned by Torstar Corp., publisher of the Toronto Star, had breached a standstill clause in the acquisition agreement -- disqualifying its bid as a "superior proposal" under the agreement.

Quebecor also said it received a letter on June 12 from Torstar "informing it that unless it agreed to sell to Torstar certain assets of Osprey, Torstar would finalize its arrangements with a third party that would submit a competing bid for Osprey."

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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