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Company Expands Facility For Broadcasting Acquisitions

Alliance Atlantis Communications closed a $500 million credit facility this month to fund broadcasting acquisitions in the coming fiscal year. Paul Laberge, senior v.p. of corporate development and general counsel, explained that the company's planned acquisitions include Women's Channel Network as well buying interest in the Family Channel and SportsNet. "Broadcasting has been our biggest area of growth over the last five years, better than production distribution," he said. Alliance, based in Toronto, Ontario, is a major Canadian production company and movie distributor, with operations in television, film, broadcasting and the Internet.

The facility has a five-year term and no amortization. It replaces an existing $410 million facility due to expire in September. "We were six months away from renegotiations on our old facility. We had achieved our balance sheet initiatives, [which included] bringing in more equity, more high-yield," Laberge said. "We felt we were in a good position and had a great relationship with our lenders." LaBerge explained that the new facility is a cash-flow facility and replaces the old borrowing-based structure. "This facility is easier to deal with; the reporting obligations aren't as onerous. We're not having to report on a borrowing base. It's also more flexible for acquisitions," he said.

Toronto-Dominion Securities led the old deal, and Laberge said the company awarded the new facility to its existing lender without going to bid. "TD has been the lender to the broadcasting sector. They have a good understanding about the business," Laberge said. The company has no other lines of credit. Its earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization is $125 million, as opposed to last fiscal year's $106 million.

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