TVA Investors ask Securities Regulator to Probe Quebecor, TVA

A group of TVA Group Inc. shareholders asked Quebec’s securities regulator to investigate the broadcaster and Quebecor Inc. over a number of transactions.

The request by the investors, who own 23 percent of Montreal-based TVA, refers to “numerous material related-party transactions, potential conflicts of interest, and the proposed acquisition” of Vision Globale by TVA, according to a statement today. The group is led by Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd., one of Canada’s largest independent investment firms, and includes Lester Asset Management Inc., Chou Associates Management Inc. and Coerente Capital Management Inc.

Quebecor owns about 41 percent of TVA, the operator of Quebec’s most-watched television network, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The complaints are “without merit,” TVA said in a statement posted on its website. “The corporation would like to reiterate that its strategy has always been to create value for all of TVA’s shareholders,” the statement said.

Sylvain Theberge, a spokesman for the securities regulator, said the regulator had received the request and was considering whether to begin an investigation. Johanne Lanthier, a spokeswoman for Montreal-based media company Quebecor, declined to comment, referring to the TVA statement.

The investors are seeking a probe into several transactions, including the proposed C$118 million ($102 million) purchase of film studio Vision Globale that they said was “motivated by reasons other than good financial business sense.” The shareholders said the deal is driven in part by the “political desires” of Quebecor’s controlling shareholder, Pierre Karl Peladeau.

“The purchase price for its assets is grossly inflated and looks to have been calculated to make certain shareholders of Global Vision whole,” the investors said.

Marc-Andre de Blois, a spokesman for Peladeau, said in an e-mail the politician isn’t involved in the company’s decisions and won’t be commenting.

Peladeau is a member of the province’s legislature and is running for the leadership of the pro-independence Parti Quebecois.