Bidding heats up on Osprey titles

Quebecor’s increased bid for Osprey Media units has them winning the takeover fight, but rival bidders still have a chance.

The trust, which owns over fifty titles across Ontario, has approved an offer from Quebecor at $8.45 per unit, but rival bidders have until August 3 to play their cards. It’s expected that Victoria, BC, based Black Press Ltd. will make another offer on the company.

Quebecor and Osprey originally announced an agreement at $7.25 per unit on May 31, 2007. That agreement included a clause, however, that allowed Osprey to accept superior offers by paying a termination fee of $15-million to Quebecor.

So far, the sale of the media company has been more than simple bidding. Disputes among bidders have been settled in court. Long before Osprey was on the market, competitor companies were devising ways of carving up the holdings. Quebecor’s bid inflamed a feud between Quebecor Inc. and Torstar Corp. about whether the two companies still had an agreement for a joint Osprey buy out.

This became more complex when Black Press Ltd. placed a bid on June 27 for $8.25 because Torstar is a 19% owner of Black Press. The rest of the 150 newspaper company is privately held by founder David Black.

June 28, Osprey announced litgation from Quebecor, which argued that Black Press’s bid breached the conditions under which the termination agreement was valid. That case was dismissed by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, and Quebecor increased their bid by $1.20 to $8.45.

On July 5, the Boart of Trustees of Osprey agreed to the revised offer from Quebecor. Now, spectators are waiting to see if there will be more bidding. Black Press has until August 3 to increase their bid.