It seems an odd prize: a bankrupt chain of 46 old-media properties, including 10 daily metro newspapers and a flagship national paper that’s lost money since the day it was launched. But Paul Godfrey and his group of investors, including a number of the chain’s creditors, managed to overcome offers from Torstar and other parties to purchase Canwest’s newspaper holdings for $1.1 billion. Godfrey’s group of backers haven’t yet been revealed, but speculation has the consortium leaning on a couple of investment funds specializing in distressed assets, Toronto’s West Face Capital and New York-based Golden Tree Asset Management. Godfrey has been the National Post‘s president for a year and a half, so he’s unlikely to harbour any illusions about the state of print media. Instead, the former city politician, Sun Media boss, and Blue Jays CEO sees an opportunity to buy low and transition the former Southam papers into the digital world. Once the chain emerges from creditor protection in July, the new owners plan to take the company public. With share prices for U.S. newspaper companies starting to rise after a long decline that many thought terminal, Godfrey et al. may well see return on their investment.
The Conservative leader emerged the winner of Britain’s May 6 election to become the nation’s prime minister. But he came up short of a majority in Parliament, which forced him to join forces with the third-ranking Liberal Democrats to form Britain’s first coalition government since the Second World War. Now Cameron must maintain ideological and political unity with the Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, his new deputy.
U.S. federal prosecutors are investigating Morgan Stanley for allegedly defrauding investors through mortgage-derivative investment deals. Morgan is already under investigation by the New York attorney general for allegedly misleading rating agencies in order to improve the grades of some mortgage securities. Morgan stock fell 2% in the day after the investigation was reported.
“Republicans buy sneakers too,” Michael Jordan once said, but the Phoenix Suns apparently don’t care. In a high-profile statement against Arizona’s controversial new immigration laws, the team wore their alternate “Los Suns” jerseys in an NBA playoff game on Cinco de Mayo, showing solidarity with their Latino fan base. It was team owner Robert Sarver’s idea, enthusiastically backed by the players and the league brass.
A website run by the kid-friendly cable network won the Worst Toy of the Year award from the consumer group Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. Games such as Addicting Fames, featuring Perry the Sneak, where players ogle women’s breasts for points, and Kitty Cannon, which involves shooting cats onto metal spikes, earned Nickelodeon a “Toady” (Toys Oppressive and Destructive to Young Children) award.
Spring snowstorms killed up to 15% of some ranchers’ cattle herds in Cardston County, just north of the Montana border. Cattle trampled each other or drowned in dugouts as they attempted to escape the vicious conditions. Losses are so bad, the local council has declared their community a disaster area.
Google acquired Toronto startup BumpTop for an undisclosed amount, though reports say the price could be as high as $35 million. BumpTop created a popular 3-D desktop interface for PCs and Macs, and techies are speculating that Google will incorporate the technology into its Android smartphones and a future tablet computer.
Andrew Cuomo, attorney general of New York, has commenced an investigation to determine whether certain banks misled credit agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s in the hopes of securing unwarranted ratings for mortgage securities. Bill Gross, managing director at Pacific Investment Management and one of the world’s most recognized bond experts, told clients the agencies “no longer serve a valid purpose” for investment firms bearing intelligence and common sense.
Sales of smartphones running Google’s Android operating system have leapt past Apple’s iPhone in the U.S. for the first time. In the first quarter of the year, Android held 28% of the market, whereas Apple made up 21%. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion retained the top spot with 36%.
This year’s shrimp season will be dismal for harvesters. Despite higher shrimp prices, slumping consumer demand and a lousy exchange rate will cause some fishermen and processors to go out of business, warned an independent pricing panel in Newfoundland.
?Hall of Famers
Five more companions of the order of the Business Hall of Fame were inducted in May. At a gala ceremony, inductees Anthony Fell, Jacques Lamarre, Kenneth Rowe, Paul Tellier and Red Wilson were awarded Canadian business’s highest honour for their achievements and service to the country’s economy and business community.
ABC’s Cougar Town may be a hit, but in the real world, it ain’t easy for women in their prime. Claudia Opdenkelder, the founder of cougarlife.com, a Toronto-based dating site that pairs older women with younger men, claims that Google has ruled her site “non-family safe,” restricting its online advertising options. Even sadder: because the G20 is taking over downtown Toronto in June, Miss Cougar Canada has had to reschedule its pageant.
U.S. solicitor general Elena Kagan has been nominated by President Obama for Supreme Court Justice. If elected, she will be the youngest justice to hold the lifetime position, at 50 years old, and will bring the number of women on the Supreme Court to three, the highest in its history.
General Motors is in the black for the first time in three years. Thanks to improved global demand for vehicles and lower production costs gained last year via its controversial government-funded bankruptcy, the Detroit automaker reported first-quarter net income of US$865 million.