Analyst sees job cuts coming Bell-Astral deal

March 21, 2012  |  Canadian Press  |  Comments

Head office job cuts are expected to result from telecom giant BCE‘s $3.4-billion deal to acquire Montreal-based Astral Media, says an analyst.

UBS analyst Phillip Huang said there will be duplication at the two head offices.

“We believe there is significant function overlap between Bell Media and Astral’s head offices, and expect substantial synergies,” Huang wrote in a report.

BCE’s proposed acquisition of specialty television and radio broadcaster Astral media aims to create a media powerhouse that would take on rivals in providing digital content to consumers on devices like smartphones and computer tablets.

In terms of jobs, BCE has said there would be some duplication, but has not been specific about possible cuts.

“There is clearly some duplication just in terms of the fact that we’re both public companies,” BCE chief executive George Cope told a news conference about the transaction Friday.

“We’ll deal with some of the corporate parts and have to deal with some of the public costs going forward, but generally this is really about a growth story,” Cope said.

Astral has a total of 2,800 employees in Montreal, Toronto and a number of other Canadian cities.

Ian Greenberg, chief executive of Astral, has said the leadership of Astral’s francophone assets in Quebec is expected to remain in the province.

“I don’t think we’re going to have any movement to Toronto,” Greenberg told the news conference.

Astral-owned pay television channels include The Movie Network, which carries HBO and Showtime series, and Family Channel, which will allow Bell push that content across multiple devices to attract more customers and advertisers.

Astral is Canada’s largest pay and specialty TV broadcaster and owns 84 radio stations in 50 Canadian markets and 24 television services. It is also the third-largest outdoor advertising company and has a stake in the country’s only subscription radio service, XM-Sirius Canada.

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