Amadeusz Juskowiak

Quebecor pqb head sees new ventures likely

Quebecor Inc one of Canadas largest publishing and printing companies is likely to launch a new daily newspaper in Montreal probably this fall president Pierre Peladeau told Reuters in an interview

The company which last week won a bid to buy the Quebec governments 55 pct interest in pulp and paper company Donohue Inc will also likely go ahead with plans to build a new paper mill in Matane Quebec Peladeau said

I would say we will move ahead with the daily This is not definite but i think we will he said adding that he plans to announce a decision early next week

Quebecor which had revenues of 446 mln Canadian dlrs last year and profit of 162 mln dlrs already publishes three daily newspapers including the tabloid Le Journal de Montreal the secondlargest circulation paper in Canada

A new daily would give Montreal its second English language paper and its sixth daily newspaper making the city the most crowded metropolitan newspaper market in North America analysts have said

Peladeau said market studies have indicated a new English language tabloid would have circulation of 50000 within six months He said he is waiting to determine whether the new venture would have the support of major advertisers

Peladeau who together with family members owns about 55 pct of Quebecor said he has recieved offers from the heads of two major Canadian companies who are interested in the project but has not decided whether he would take partners in the newspaper venture

He said he would consider launching the newspaper with one of the companies as a prelude to other joint ventures

It would be the possibility of doing something else in the short term Peladeau said

Peladeau said the joint acquisition of Donohue with Robert Maxwells British Printing and Communications Corp plc BPCLL does not mean Quebecor will have to hold off on other projects

Peladeau and Maxwells companies teamed up to buy the stake in Donohue which resulted in Quebecor buying 51 pct of the govvernments stake for about 165 mln Canadian dlrs and British printing acquiring the other 49 pct

In 1976 or 77 there was a tremendous shortage of newsprint There were days when we didnt have enough paper to print the paper Peladeau said When I lived that I said to myselfnext time well be ready

Peladeau said most of Donohues current total newsprint capacity however is already committed to other buyers

Quebecor uses about 100000 metric tons of newsprint a year and Maxwells company which publishes Britains Daily Mirror newspaper uses about 200000 tonnes

Peladeau said even with a new 170 mln dlr paper machine 49 pct owned by the New York Times NYTA adding to Donohues 540000 metric tonne capacity this fall the companies will have to install another paper machine at Amos Quebec or build another mill to meet their demands

He said a new mill which would produce either newsprint or other types of paper would cost 400500 mln dlrs and could be on stream in two years He said a mill in Matane a depressed area with high unemployment would be heavily subsidized by the government

Peladeau said he is interested in further joint ventures with Maxwells company either in the newspaper market in France or in the US where the company owns two large printing plants and is looking to expand its newspaper empire

He said Maxwells sons who are French citizens would provide an entree into the French market where foreigners are prevented from buying newspapers Peladeau said he would consider either buying into or starting daily newspapers in France or the US

Quebecor is also in the process of expanding its chain of about 40 weekly newspapers with the possible acquisition of two groups of weekly newspapers in the US and is negotiating the acquisition of two weekly newspaper chains in Canada Peladeau said

He said the company may consider starting daily newspapers in two small Quebec cities and buying radio stations in the province

Peladeau said Quebecor may also consider trading in its listing on the American stock exchange for a New York Stock Exchange listing

Reuter