Analyst predicts job cuts after BCE acquires Astral Media

UBS analyst Phillip Huang pointed to a major "overlap" between Bell Media and Astral Media, leading to likely head office cost savings.

BCE’s $3.4 billion acquisition of Astral Media will open the way for head office job cuts, UBS analyst Phillip Huang predicted Wednesday.

“We believe there is significant function overlap between Bell Media and Astral’s head offices, and expect substantial synergies,” Huang wrote in an investors’ note.

BCE has made no predictions about job cuts following news of its friendly takeover of Montreal-based Astral Media, which is to be folded into its Bell Media division.

But George Cope, CEO of BCE, last week told financial analysts that job cuts at both BCE and Astral Media are expected as two publicly traded companies come together.

“There will be work done within Astral and the Bell team to find ways to optimize the cost structure,” Cope told a joint conference call with Astral Media CEO Ian Greenberg.

For his part, Greenberg told analysts BCE was chosen to buy his family-controlled media group in part to preserve as much of his current 2,800-strong Astral workforce as possible.

“We chose Bell because it was the best fit for our people. I wanted to make sure going forward that our people would feel at home in a corporation that truly had a need for them,” Greenberg told analysts.