Pacific Century Group, an investment vehicle controlled by Richard Li, the chairman of Hong Kong’s incumbent fixed line telco PCCW, revealed last Thursday that it has joined a consortium led by US private equity group Cerberus which aims to launch a takeover bid for Canada’s largest telecoms group Bell Canada Enterprises (BCE). Pacific Century added in a statement that it offered to bring PCCW into the Cerberus group but the company declined. BCE, which provides fixed line services through Bell Canada and Bell Aliant, and nationwide mobile services as Bell Mobility, announced on 17 April that it was undergoing a strategic review which included looking at the possibility of a deal to take the firm private. It has also entered negotiations with a team formed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and US buyout specialist Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), and another consortium including the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and US equity firm Providence Equity Partners. Cerberus plans to launch a bid in partnership with a group of Canadian investors which is rumoured to include cableco Shaw Communications, CanWest Global Communications and the Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan. BCE’s ownership is distributed, and its shares are listed in Canada, the USA and Europe; its largest single shareholder is the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (5.3%).
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