BCE Inc, the parent company of Canada’s largest telco Bell Canada, yesterday denied reports of a possible friendly leveraged buyout by US private equity buyout firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR). BCE said that ‘there are no ongoing discussions being held with any private equity investor with respect to any privatisation of the company or any similar transaction.’ BCE did not deny having held buyout talks, but said management ‘has no current intention to pursue such discussions.’ Nonetheless, BCE previously hired investment bank Goldman Sachs for advice on strategic options. KKR has already completed major buyouts in Canada including retail pharmacy and telephone directories businesses. Federal legislation bars foreign firms from owning more than 46% of the voting shares of Canadian telecommunications companies, and KKR is reported to have held talks with potential local partners, including the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, which is BCE’s largest shareholder with around 5% of the company.
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