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U.S. hedge fund takes bigger bite of BCE

Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Author: Robert Gibbens, Montreal Gazette

U.S. hedge fund Paulson & Co. has become the fourth largest shareholder in Montreal-based BCE Inc., the country's biggest telecommunications group.

US. regulatory filings show it bought 17.1 million BCE shares during the final quarter of last year, bringing Paulsonís total holding to 22.6 million shares at Dec. 31.

Paulson, which manages about $30 billion U.S., invests in companies coping with takeovers and restructurings. The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan's planned $52 billion privatization of BCE fell through late last year and the company is being restructured under the leadership of CEO George Cope.

In all, Paulson, which sold holdings in takeover situations such as those involving brewery giant Anheuser Busch and Barr Pharmaceuticals, ended the year with a portfolio of about $6 billion U.S. of U.S. shares.

Teachers remains the biggest BCE shareholder with 6.3 per cent, followed by Credit Suisse and Harris Financial.