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CanWest plans IPO for Kiwi operations


WINNIPEG - CanWest Global Communications Corp., last week announced that it intends to launch an initial public offering (IPO) of shares of its New Zealand radio and television operations.

The IPO will offer to the public 68 million fully-paid shares of CanWest MediaWorks (NZ) Limited, a newly-incorporated New Zealand company, which will acquire CanWest's existing New Zealand media operations. On completion of the offering, the CanWest MediaWorksNZ shares will be listed on the NZSX.

"The IPO presents an excellent and rare opportunity for investors in New Zealand to participate in the ownership of one of the largest, most successful and diverse media companies in that country," said Tom Strike, CanWest's COO (Corporate), who will be chairman of CanWest MediaWorksNZ.

"For CanWest, the IPO of CanWest MediaWorksNZ will allow us to realize a significant component of the value of our New Zealand media holdings, while holding a substantial stake in that public company. CanWest will use the proceeds that it receives from the sell-down to reduce its debt," said Leonard Asper, CanWest's president and CEO.

The CanWest MediaWorksNZ stable of radio and television brands will include The Edge, Channel Z, The Rock, More FM, Radio Pacific and Solid Gold, and 22 regional radio stations, as well as television networks "3" the leading privately-owned TV network in New Zealand and C4 - the newly-launched free-to-air music channel.

On completion of the offering, CanWest MediaWorksNZ will use the funds raised from its share issue, together with proceeds of a concurrent bank financing and a further issue of shares, to acquire all of the company's New Zealand media operations - CanWest RadioWorks Limited and CanWest TVWorks Limited. It is expected that public investors will acquire approximately 30% of CanWest MediaWorksNZ, with CanWest acquiring an approximate 70% interest in the publicly-traded vehicle. CanWest may reduce its ownership to 64% of CanWest MediaWorks, if an over-allotment option is fully exercised.

The offering is expected to open on or about June 9 and close on or about June 29 and will likely raise about NZ$119 million ($70 million) if the company maintains a 70% interest and NZ$143 million if CanWest sells down to 64%, say several reports.

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