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Bell Canada denies private takeover report

March 29, 2007 at 2:53 PM

MONTREAL, March 29 (UPI) -- BCE Inc. of Montreal, Canada's largest telephone company, said Thursday that it was not seeking to be taken private.

"There are no ongoing discussions being held with any private-equity investor with respect to any privatization of the company or any similar transaction," BCE said in a statement, responding to a report in The Globe and Mail Thursday that the Bell Canada parent met with Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.

The company "has no current intention to pursue such discussions," the statement said.

KKR executives met at least twice with BCE officials, including Chief Executive Officer Michael Sabia, about a possible offer, the newspaper said.

It said KKR might pursue an offer with the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, BCE's biggest shareholder and a partner on earlier deals, including 2002's $3 billion buyout of BCE's Yellow Pages operation.

The newspaper said Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was BCE's adviser on a possible deal.

KKR and Goldman Sachs spokesmen declined to comment on any deal speculation.

BCE shares were up $1.68, or 6.46 percent, to $27.69 in mid-afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange after trading as high as $29.15 before BCE's denial.

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