BCE Takeover part 18
Hard to believe that there is still stuff going on at BCE that warrants observation, but there is:
From BCE CEO Michael Sabia and Chairman Richard Currie’s meeting with the Globe & Mail’s editorial board:
It was a better outcome than some may have expected, especially considering the bitter criticism from some corners about Mr. Sabia’s involvement.
There were some concerns, for example, when Mr. Sabia went out and recruited the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to join one private equity group made up of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co.
But BCE chairman Richard Currie said Mr. Sabia wasn’t acting on his own.
“The board told Michael, ‘We can’t have one horse in this race,’” said Mr. Currie, who also attended Tuesday’s editorial board meeting. “‘We need another horse. Michael, go get another horse.’”
Read it again, just so you can be sure of what you’ve just read.
The BCE board didn’t want a one horse race, so they instructed Michael Sabia to “get another horse”. So, the ever compliant Mr. Sabia called “and recruited the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec to join one private equity group made up of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co.” Hmmmm.
If you were instructed to get another horse into the race, it can’t make much sense to hitch up that horse to the existing team, can it? In an effort to stimulate competition for us (former) shareholders, Mr. Sabia recruited the Caisse to join CPPIB and KKR’s bidding group?
Unfortunately, the stupidity of that concept wasn’t probed by the Globe. By coincidence, BCE owns a stake in the Globe & Mail. You can only assume that ROB Editor John Stackhouse heard the story – and noticed the ludicrous nature of it all – and decided to let it go; BCE already thought that the Globe had been piling on for weeks as it was. (BTW, whenever Mr. Currie referred to “criticism” in the interview, he was actually referring to the Globe’s own coverage! Kudos to Andy Willis in particular for a great series of scoops.)
The U.S. class action lawyers will have fun with Mr. Currie’s depiction of the chain of events, should they ever launch a suit about the past few months. In the meantime, superstar PR guru Bill Fox (BCE’s EVP of Public Affairs) can only thank his Irish God that no one in the Globe’s editorial board followed up on that pockerful “get us another horse” story.