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File photo of Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob. (J.P. MOCZULSKI/REUTERS)
File photo of Cineplex CEO Ellis Jacob. (J.P. MOCZULSKI/REUTERS)

Cineplex rules itself out as buyer of Astral assets Add to ...

Cineplex Inc. will not be a buyer of any Astral Media Inc. or BCE Inc. assets, regardless of what the companies put on the block to appease the regulators overseeing their $3-billion deal.

While the takeover has already been shot down once by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission due to competition concerns, the companies are now trying to win support by promising to reduce market clout through the sale of a number of television, radio and other media assets.

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While the new submission is in front of regulators, details of the proposal have not yet been made public. This has set off a flurry of speculation about which companies could be interested in the assets – Rogers Communications has previously said it could bid for specialty television channels, while Cogeco Inc. is seen as a possible buyer of radio stations.

Cineplex was named as a possible buyer by analysts following the deal, but chief executive officer Ellis Jacob said there’s no way his company would venture into a new market in which it has little direct experience.

Astral owns a stake in The Movie Network, which shares a licence with HBO Canada. And while Cineplex is breaking into the television business through its Ultraviolet service, that is more of an on-demand movie rental and purchasing app than a television channel.

“I don’t know where that idea comes from,” he said of hearing his company’s name linked to the deal. “No.”

The Toronto-based theatre chain said it earned $51.7-million in its last quarter, compared with $25.7-million in the same quarter last year. Revenue increased 1.7 per cent to $281.4-million from $276.7-million.

Details of the BCE-Astral deal won’t be made public until the CRTC launches a public consultation period early next year, which will eventually be followed by a public hearing.

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