Bell extends deadline to close Astral Media takeover deal to July 31

MONTREAL – BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) has extended its takeover offer for Astral Media Inc. (TSX:ACM.B) to July 31 as it awaits regulatory approval for the transaction.

BCE had faced a deadline of Saturday to close the $3.4-billion deal, which was first announced in March 2012.

The federal broadcast regulator rejected the takeover last year over concerns it gave Bell too much control of the television market, but the company revised its proposal and resubmitted it for approval.

The CRTC held a week of hearings earlier this month into the new proposal.

The revised deal would, among other things, see Bell sell all of Astral’s English language specialty services and one of its English pay TV services. However, it would keep eight of Astral’s channels including the pay TV service, The Movie Network.

The sale has already been approved by the Competition Bureau, Quebec Superior Court and Astral’s shareholders.