BCE takes Bell Aliant subsidiary private, plans to continue fiber-based broadband push

BCE, the parent company of Bell Canada, is going to privatize its Atlantic Canada affiliate Bell Aliant by acquiring the interest of its public minority shareholders for $3.7 billion while supporting its FibreOP fiber to the home (FTTH) broadband growth initiatives.

"Privatizing Bell Aliant enhances our broadband investment strategy and capital markets objectives while delivering great value to the public minority shareholders who have supported Bell Aliant's success," said George Cope, president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, in a release.

By becoming part of the larger BCE, it will gain access to Bell Canada's expansive network facilities, but also the full financial backing of BCE, which will be important as it continues to drive FTTH into more communities as well as data hosting and cloud computing for local businesses.  

BCE is planning to invest $2.1 billion across Atlantic Canada over the next five years to expand both wireline-based broadband and advanced wireless services for consumers and businesses. In addition, BCE will continue to invest in broadband services serving rural areas of Ontario and Québec currently managed by Bell Aliant. Bell Aliant has set a goal to reach 1 million premises across the Bell Aliant territory by the end of the year with FTTH-based FibreOP broadband data and TV service.

While it won't announce second-quarter earnings until Aug. 1, Bell Aliant reported that in the first quarter, it added 16,000 new FibreOP Internet customers, ending the quarter with a total of 200,000 subscribers.

To support its broadband growth initiatives, Bell recently acquired two new call centers in New Brunswick to improve customer service and bring 700 more jobs into the Bell team.

BCE said it expects the privatization deal to be completed by completed by Nov. 30, 2014.

For more:
- see the release

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