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Brookfield Infrastructure aims to bolster data portfolio with $2.6-billion Cincinnati Bell deal – Financial Post

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Brookfield Infrastructure Partners LP is aiming to add another piece to its growing data-infrastructure portfolio with the proposed acquisition of Ohio-based telco Cincinnati Bell Inc.

It was announced Monday that Brookfield Infrastructure and its institutional partners are buying Cincinnati Bell in a transaction valued at around US$2.6 billion, including debt.

Cincinnati Bell uses its fibre-optic and copper networks to provide high-speed internet, video, voice and data services to customers in parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Hawaii.

The company is currently upgrading its network to “next generation” fibre, a press release said, which is needed to support “the growing demand for data” and the emergence of fifth-generation cellular technology known as 5G. To date, half of Cincinnati Bell’s network has been “future-proofed,” the release said.

Acquiring Cincinnati Bell would fit into Brookfield Infrastructure’s existing interests. Chief executive Sam Pollock said in the release that the deal will add “utility-like cash flows,” as well as yet another major investment for the company’s data-infrastructure portfolio.

That portfolio has been particularly active lately, with the play for Cincinnati Bell following a couple of other deals.

Brookfield Infrastructure on Dec. 16 announced it was buying a telecom tower company in India for US$3.7 billion, with the company paying US$375 million of that and the rest coming from its investing partners.

And on Dec. 19, 3i Infrastructure PLC announced it had agreed to sell its 93-per-cent stake in the United Kingdom’s Wireless Infrastructure Group Ltd. to Brookfield Infrastructure, in a sale that valued the stake in WIG at around £387 million ($658 million). WIG builds and operates telecom towers in rural and suburban areas.

CIBC World Markets analyst Robert Catellier said in a note on the Indian telecom tower investment that Brookfield Infrastructure also had experience in the telecom infrastructure business in France and New Zealand.

“It is on strategy in regard to both jurisdiction and asset class, as BIP has been targeting additional data infrastructure investments,” he said. “Data infrastructure and transmission is expected to grow with the roll out of 5G service; the technology requires a significantly higher number of points-of-presence over 4G.”

Brookfield Infrastructure’s data infrastructure segment serves customers in the telecom and media broadcasting sectors, and its aims “are to invest capital to enhance and expand our service offerings while providing safe, reliable and secure access to our properties,” the company said in a third-quarter report.

“If we are able to achieve these objectives,” Brookfield added, “we will be able to attract new customers and maintain low levels of churn on existing customers.”

Approximately 30 per cent of Brookfield Infrastructure is owned by Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc., which has more than $500 billion in assets under management. Brookfield Infrastructure first went public in 2008, and calls itself “the flagship listed infrastructure company of Brookfield Asset Management.”

Shares of Brookfield Infrastructure rose Monday morning following the Cincinnati Bell announcement, and were up around 1.8 per cent as of 10:30 a.m., trading at $64.82 in Toronto.

Under the terms of the deal announced Monday, each issued and outstanding share of Cincinnati Bell common stock will be converted into the right to receive US$10.50 in cash upon the transaction closing, which is expected to happen by the end of 2020, pending shareholder and regulatory approval.

The US$10.50 cash offer is a 36-per-cent premium to Cincinnati Bell’s closing share price on Dec. 20.

“After thoroughly reviewing a range of strategic alternatives and possible business opportunities for maximizing value, the Board determined this transaction was in the best interest of the company, its shareholders, and its customers,” Cincinnati Bell chair Lynn Wentworth said in the release.

Chief executive Leigh Fox added that “the transaction strengthens our financial position, enabling accelerated investment in our strategic products that is not presently available to Cincinnati Bell as a standalone company.”

Financial Post

• Email: gzochodne@nationalpost.com | Twitter:

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What supply chain shortages look like for two Canadians – CBC.ca

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  1. What supply chain shortages look like for two Canadians  CBC.ca
  2. Canadian ski resorts struggle to hire enough workers ahead of season  CBC.ca
  3. Calls to end ‘hybrid’ classrooms in Ontario with in-person and virtual teaching  CBC.ca
  4. A life story told in outfits: Anahid Chujunian discovers her voice one thrift find at a time  CBC.ca
  5. Amateur astronomer in Dartmouth has an asteroid named after him  CBC.ca
  6. View Full coverage on Google News



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FDA says kid-sized Pfizer vaccine doses appear highly effective, safe – CBC.ca

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U.S. health regulators said late Friday that kid-size doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine appear highly effective at preventing symptomatic infections in elementary school children and caused no unexpected safety issues, as the country weighs beginning vaccinations in youngsters.

The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis of Pfizer’s data ahead of a public meeting next week to debate whether the shots are ready for the nation’s roughly 28 million children ages 5 to 11. The agency will ask a panel of outside vaccine experts to vote on that question.

In their analysis, FDA scientists concluded that in almost every scenario the vaccine’s benefit for preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 would outweigh any serious potential side effects in children. But agency reviewers stopped short of calling for Pfizer’s shot to be authorized.

The agency will put that question to its panel of independent advisers next Tuesday and weigh their advice before making its own decision.

U.S. children could begin vaccinations next month

If the FDA authorizes the shots, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will make additional recommendations on who should receive them the first week of November. Children could begin vaccinations early next month — with the first youngsters in line fully protected by Christmas.

Full-strength Pfizer shots already are recommended for anyone 12 or older, but pediatricians and many parents are anxiously awaiting protection for younger children to stem infections from the extra-contagious delta variant and help keep kids in school.

WATCH | Pfizer releases clinical trial data for COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11:

Pfizer releases clinical trial data for COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 to 11

13 hours ago

Pfizer publicly released data from its coronavirus vaccine trial appearing to show that it’s both safe and effective for children aged five to 11. But that data is now being reviewed by regulators, and parents want to carefully weigh the risks. 2:03

The FDA review affirmed results from Pfizer posted earlier in the day showing the two-dose shot was nearly 91 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic infection in young children. Researchers calculated the figure based on 16 COVID-19 cases in youngsters given dummy shots versus three cases among vaccinated children. There were no severe illnesses reported among any of the youngsters, but the vaccinated ones had much milder symptoms than their unvaccinated counterparts.

Most of the study data was collected in the U.S. during August and September, when the delta variant had become the dominant COVID-19 strain.

No new side effects

The FDA review found no new or unexpected side effects, which mostly consisted of sore arms, fever or achiness that teens experience.

However, FDA scientists noted that the study wasn’t large enough to detect extremely rare side effects, including myocarditis, a type of heart inflammation that occasionally occurs after the second dose.

The agency used statistical modelling to try to predict how many hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 the vaccine would prevent versus the number of potential heart side effects it might cause. In four scenarios of the pandemic, the vaccine clearly prevented more hospitalizations than would be expected from the heart side effect. Only when virus cases were extremely low would the vaccine cause more hospitalizations than it would prevent. But overall, regulators concluded that the vaccine’s protective benefits “would clearly outweigh” its risks.

While children run a lower risk of severe illness or death than older people, COVID-19 has killed more than 630 Americans 18 and under, according to the CDC. Nearly 6.2 million children have been infected with the coronavirus, more than 1.1 million in the last six weeks as the delta variant surged, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

The Biden administration has purchased enough kid-size doses — in special orange-capped vials to distinguish them from adult vaccine — for the nation’s 5- to 11-year-olds. If the vaccine is cleared, millions of doses will be promptly shipped around the country, along with kid-size needles.

More than 25,000 pediatricians and primary care providers already have signed up to get the shots into little arms.

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Edward Rogers’ role as Blue Jays chair unchanged amid changes atop RCI – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — Edward Rogers’ roles as chair of the Toronto Blue Jays and control person with Major League Baseball are unaffected by this week’s manoeuvrings that led to his removal as board chair of parent company Rogers Communications Inc., according to two industry sources.

Whether fallout from the power struggle atop the telecom giant, which also owns Sportsnet, might eventually reach the club is unclear. Last week, Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro said the team was “about a month away” from presenting its off-season plan during a final payroll meeting with ownership, and expressed confidence that its long-term strategic objectives would remain on track.

“Every indication I’ve received and every indication that we’ve been shown … leads me to believe that we will stay on plan and the payroll will continue to rise despite the fact that we’re still lagging behind a little bit in revenues due to (the pandemic),” Shapiro said.

Those comments came before news broke that John MacDonald, a member of the Rogers Board of Directors since 2012, had assumed the chairman role in place of Edward Rogers, who according to media reports had sought to oust company CEO Joe Natale.

Edward Rogers is now seeking to replace five board members.

At this point, the sources said the developments aren’t expected to impact a winter of opportunity for the Blue Jays, who are seeking to augment a club that missed the post-season by one game and are about to see top performers Marcus Semien, Robbie Ray and Steven Matz hit free agency.

Shapiro is close with Edward Rogers, who as chair is the top officer of the club. He is also the control person, a role each of the 30 MLB teams assigns to represent the interests of that ownership.

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