CanWest Teeters On Default; A Reorg — And Asper's Loss Of Control — Increasingly Likely

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CanWest, Canada’s largest newspaper publisher, is facing possible default on $300 million (Canadian; $241 million USD) unless it can get its lenders to relax the terms on a debt payment due today, NYT reports. If it can’t, the Winnipeg, Manitoba-based company, which also owns the Global Television Network and reaches about 95 percent of that country’s English-speaking population, could face bankruptcy.

In general, the newspaper business in Canada hasn’t been suffering as much as in the U.S. But like its publishing counterparts to the south, debt stemming from its newspaper purchases nine years ago are the source of CanWest’s current crisis. The company was started in 1974 by the late Israel Asper and his family still controls CanWest. Observers believe that unless they get a reprieve from creditors, the Aspers, could lose control of their company — something observers consider likely even if the company gets a break on today’s payment.

Update: As expected, CanWest got the necessary waivers on the maturities due on Friday, Reuters reported. The company now has until March 11 to make the payment.

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Are they off the air yet? Today is March 11, their last day. Hopefully they are gone and no more annoying interruptions from them when watching CBS, NBC, ABC, and FOX.

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