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Canada Antitrust Agency Approves BCE-Astral Deal With Conditions

Canada's antitrust agency said Monday it has approved BCE Inc.'s (BCE) amended acquisition offer for Astral Media Inc. (ACM.A.T) on the condition BCE sell off some pay- and speciality-television assets.The approval from the Competition Bureau means the two companies have cleared an important regulatory hurdle in their second attempt to close this deal, valued at 3.38 billion Canadian dollars ($3.29 billion) and first announced a year ago this month.Without the agreed-upon divestitures, the bureau said the BCE takeover of Astral "would likely have led to increased prices, less innovation and reduced choice for television programming."In a separate statement, Corus Entertainment Inc. (CJR.B.T), a specialty-TV and radio operator and Astral rival, said it agreed to acquire the 50% of Teletoon, a cartoon specialty-TV operator, it doesn't already own, and two radio stations that BCE will acquire under the Astral deal. In a separate transaction Corus also agreed to buy out Shaw Communications...

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