Shaw reportedly shopping its stake in Corus

According to a report from The Globe and Mail, the teleco aims to free capital to invest in its wireless network.
Corus Quay - General 2

Shaw Communications is looking for a buyer for its 38% stake in Corus Entertainment, according to a report from The Globe and Mail.

Corus, Shaw and TD Securities declined to comment on the matter to Playback, with a Corus spokesperson noting that the company “does not comment on speculation.”

Shaw is pursuing the sale as a means of freeing up capital to invest in its Freedom Mobile wireless network, the report says, with value of the shares estimated at $540 million. TD Securities is reportedly handling the effort on behalf of Shaw, shopping the stake to a number of private equity funds and investors that do not currently own national media businesses.

In January 2016, Corus announced it would acquire all of Shaw Media’s assets from Shaw Communications in a deal worth $2.65 billion. The transaction saw Corus take ownership of brands then owned by Shaw Media, including specialty channels like Food Network Canada, HGTV Canada, Slice and History. Shaw was prohibited from selling its shares in the company until April of this year, when the lock-up agreement expired, according to the report.

The news of a potential sale comes as the number of media players globally continues to shrink. Yesterday, a U.S. federal judge approved AT&T’s proposed $85-billion takeover of Time Warner, which operates CNN, Warner Bros. and HBO, among others. The deal is one of many so-called media mega-mergers on the horizon, including Disney’s bid for Fox Television Network and 20th Century Fox and Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Sky in the U.K.

In Canada, however, it is likely that regulators would scrutinize any deal that increased the size of a company already in the content business. The Competition Bureau recently shut down Corus Entertainment’s proposed sale of French-language channels Historia and Séries+ to Bell Media. And the CRTC has shut down similar M&A activity before, most notably when Bell sought to acquire the assets of Astral in 2012.

In January 2016, Corus announced it would acquire all of Shaw Media’s assets from Shaw Communications in a deal worth $2.65 billion. The transaction saw Corus take ownership of brands then owned by Shaw Media, including specialty channels like Food Network Canada, HGTV Canada, Slice and History.

In its Q1 2018 financial report in January, Corus posted year-over-year revenues of $415.5 million across its TV business, down 2% from $425.6 million at the same period a year earlier. TV profits dipped 9% to $168.6 million in the quarter, from $184.4 million in Q1 of 2017.