Bell Canada shareholders OK buyout

Shareholders at Bell Canada voted overwhelmingly to approve the leveraged buyout of the company by the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan and U.S. private equity firms Madison Dearborn Partners and Providence Equity Partners. The approved bid for Canada's top incumbent telco was $34.8 billion, though with debt thrown in, the total value is about $51.7 billion.

This deal cleared many hurdles, not the least of which was concern about the debt load. Also sparking controversy were judgments that a teachers' pension fund shouldn't be participating in such a deal, and allegations that the pension fund was only an acceptably Canadian stalking horse for the U.S. private equity firms.

In addition, Bell Canada competitor Telus was in the running as a buyer, but later withdrew from what it deemed an unfair bidding process. Despite all this and additional complaints from handfuls of investors and Bell Canada bond holders, Canada's competition bureau said late last week it would let the deal slide by without further delay.

Meanwhile, along with the shareholder approval, Bell Canada CEO Michael Sabia also announced that he will be leaving the company early next year.

For more:
- Read this story on Canada's National Post