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Rogers Said Would Consider Bidding for Some Astral Assets

Rogers Communications Inc. said it would consider acquiring parts of Astral Media Inc., the target of a C$3 billion ($3 billion) bid from BCE Inc. that was rejected by Canada’s telecommunications regulator last week.

BCE has asked the federal government to intervene and overturn the Oct. 18 decision by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission. Toronto-based Rogers, Canada’s largest wireless operator, would consider bidding for some parts of the company if that appeal fails.

“Obviously we know the Astral assets very well,” Keith Pelley, president of Rogers media business, told journalists on a conference call today after the company posted earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. If in the coming months “selective” assets become available that “strategically fit with our strategy, we would evaluate them at that time,” he said.

The CRTC denied BCE ownership of Astral, saying it was bad for consumers and would give BCE too much control of Canadian broadcasting, putting the Montreal-based specialty channel broadcaster back in play for other potential bidders. Among Astral’s assets are radio stations and more than 20 television channels including MusiquePlus and Super Ecran.

Rogers most recent acquisitions include its C$1.32 billion acquisition with BCE of professional sports conglomerate Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. in August and its purchase last week of Score Media Inc.

Rogers advanced 3.3 percent to C$42.43 at 4 p.m. in Toronto, the highest price since June 2008. Astral rose 2.2 percent to C$39.94, the most since March.

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