Astral shares halted after report of new BCE deal

Astral shares halted after speculation of new takeover deal with Canadian telecom giant BCE

Associated Press

TORONTO (AP) -- Trading in shares of Astral Media Inc. has been halted after speculation that Canadian telecom giant BCE Inc. was planning to make a new takeover offer for the broadcasting and advertising company.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission rejected a US$3.39 billion (CA$3.40 billion) deal last month, saying it wasn't in the best interests of Canadians.

Astral Media Inc. said Friday that it's still talking with BCE to continue pursuing regulatory approvals for the deal. BCE declined to comment.

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that those familiar with the talks say the new deal seeks to overcome regulatory opposition by auctioning off a number of Astral's broadcast assets.

BCE, Canada's largest telecom company, wants to create a media powerhouse with more content to deliver to TVs, tablets and mobile devices.

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