Astral bids on Radiomutuel

Montreal: Astral Communications has tabled a $224-million bid to buy the outstanding shares of specialty tv and media company Radiomutuel. Astral’s offer is $24 a share payable in cash. It currently owns 24.4% of Radiomutuel’s outstanding shares.

If the transaction is approved by the crtc, Astral will acquire lifestyle channel Canal Vie, newly licensed technology channel Canal z, both owned by Radiomutuel, and music specialty channels MusiquePlus and Musimax, owned equally by Radiomutuel and CHUM Ltd. Astral also acquires the balance of a tv sales agency owned jointly with Radiomutuel, a multimedia and website operation and other assets.

Radiomutuel also owns eight fm radio stations in Quebec, three am stations, and 50% of the Radiomedia network, complemented by a radio news network and advertising sales division. The company also owns 65% of Omni Outdoor and Company, which has a variety of billboard and interactive terminal sites in three Canadian provinces and in the u.s.

Astral chairman Andre Bureau says if approved the integration of Radiomutuel’s specialty tv assets into the Astral broadcasting group will ‘establish a better balance vis-a-vis the major conventional broadcasters – which are also involved in pay and specialty services – in the Quebec market, and will provide further opportunities for the independent production industry.’

Radiomutuel’s controlling shareholders are chairman and ceo Normand Beauchamp and executive vp Paul-Emile Beaulne. The company had net profits of $6.7 million on revenues of $82 million in fiscal ’98. On June 8, the date Astral’s bid was made public, Radiomutuel shares closed on the Montreal Exchange at $23.60.

Astral reported net profits of $12.6 million on a top line of $326.3 million in fiscal ’98. Consolidated revenues in broadcasting, the wholesale video and marketing deal with Blockbuster Video, and, going forward, revenues from technical service company Groupe Covitec, are part of Astral’s growing top-line performance.

Banque National/National Bank of Canada is providing credit financing. Newcrest Capital is acting financial advisor.