Providence CEO expects BCE deal to happen

Providence Equity Partners CEO Jonathan Nelson said last week that he expects the banks lending the money for the $34 billion buyout of BCE Inc., Canada’s largest telecommunications company, to honor their commitments in the deal.

The BCE deal is led by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and also includes Providence, Madison Dearborn Partners and a private equity arm of Merrill Lynch & Co.

Asked at a Wall Street Journal conference last week about the relationship Providence has with the banks in the BCE buyout, Nelson said: “As we sit here, I would expect the banks to honor their commitments. I don’t see any reason why they won’t.”

The proposed buyout hit a wall in May when a Quebec court backed debtholders who complained the buyout was unfair. Bondholders had complained that the Ontario Teachers’ offer, made in June 2007, represented a reorganization of BCE rather than simply a buyout, and that while the telecom giant’s shareholders were offered a premium, the value of BCE bonds had dropped.

BCE and the purchasing group have appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, which will hear oral arguments on June 17.

The company faces a June 30 deadline for court approval of the deal, which would rank as the country’s largest ever leveraged buyout transaction. —Reuters