While the Asper family, which founded and controlled CanWest, is trying to maintain control of its television business, Friday's filing will apparently bring an end to its role as the country's leading publisher.
CanWest said that if no buyer was immediately found for the newspapers, they would be sold to the secured lender. They would effectively acquire the newspapers by exchanging the debt they carry for equity. That group, however, is dominated by Canada's five largest banks. Both business and political reasons suggested that the banks would not be keen to control the country's newspaper business for an extended period.
While Canadian newspapers have been hurt by the rise of the Internet, its impact has not been as severe in Canada as in the United States. Most of CanWest's newspapers are believed to be solidly profitable on an operating basis. The National Post, the money-losing Toronto-based newspaper, was not included in the bankruptcy filing, but lenders intend to purchase it along with the others.