Canwest $1.1 Billion Newspaper Sale Approved by Judge

Canwest Global Communications Corp. said an Ontario court approved the C$1.1 billion ($1.06 billion) sale of its newspaper chain to a group of creditors led by Canadian media executive Paul Godfrey.

The sale sanctioned by Ontario Superior Court Judge Sarah Pepall will provide jobs for all of Canwest’s full-time employees and “substantially all” of its part-time workers, Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Canwest said today in a statement.

Godfrey, former chief executive officer of the National Post newspaper, and a group of creditors last week won a court-monitored auction, beating out a C$925 million minimum bid from lenders including Bank of Nova Scotia, and an offer from Torstar Corp., owner of the Toronto Star. Canwest was forced to sell assets after filing for bankruptcy protection in January.

A third bid, from an unidentified group, was also rejected, according to papers filed by FTI Consulting, the court-appointed monitor.

The sale must still be approved at a June 10 meeting by unsecured creditors, who will consider it as part of a vote on Canwest’s newspaper division’s plan to exit bankruptcy. Pepall today approved the meeting and the date, Canwest said.

Canwest operates Canada’s biggest newspaper chain with 12 dailies including the Vancouver Sun, Montreal Gazette and Ottawa Citizen as well as the National Post. The company also publishes 45 community and free newspapers.