Wednesday, August 29, 2007

CRTC officials grill Astral over Standard Broadcasting price

Suggest deal worth more than $1.08-billion


GATINEAU, QUE. -- Astral Media Inc. faced tough questions yesterday from federal broadcast regulators who suggested the broadcaster is low-balling the $1.08-billion purchase price of Standard Broadcasting Ltd. - a deal that will create the largest commercial radio company Canada has ever seen.

At hearings held yesterday to scrutinize the massive takeover, officials with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission indicated they believe the Standard transaction is worth more than Montreal-based Astral is letting on, and that certain items have been left out of the purchase price to keep a lid on regulatory payments.

Astral executives were questioned about the stock price used to value more than two million shares changing hands in the deal, which the CRTC argues is being understated.

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