Bell Canada agrees to $48.5b buyout

Bell Canada agreed to be bought by a private partnership led by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan in a deal valued at $48.5 billion that would be the largest leveraged buyout ever, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the cash deal to take Canada's largest telecommunications company private, if approved by shareholders, would also be the largest takeover ever in Canada.

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Board, the US-based Providence Equity Partners and Madison Dearborn Partners would buy BCE for C$51.7 billion which includes the assumption of C$16.9 billion ($15.9 billion) worth of debt, preferred equity and minority interests, BCE, quoted by the report, said.

The Toronto-based pension plan, with assets of C$106 billion ($99 billion) in 2006, invests and administers the retirement funds for Ontario's 167,000 teachers and 104,000 retired teachers, the report added.

The pension plan was BCE's largest shareholder with a 6.3% stake, it said.

Jim Leech, senior vice president of Teachers' Private Capital, the investment wing of the pension plan, was quoted by the report as saying that this deal is larger than the February purchase of energy provider TXU by a consortium of buyout shops for a record $45 billion.