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Quebecor Media gets approval to buy Sogides

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MONTREAL (CP) - Quebecor Media finalized the purchase of the Sogides book publishing and distribution group Tuesday after the Competition Bureau ruled the deal wouldn't lessen or prevent competition.

The federal bureau, however, did require that Sogides founder and president Pierre Lesperance resign as a director of Gestion Renaud-Bray Inc., which competes with Quebecor's Archambault Group Inc. bookstores. He will also give control of his shares in Renaud-Bray to an independent agent.

The bureau said the reestrictions on Lesperance are intended to eliminate the possibility of information exchanges between Archambault and Renaud-Bray through him.

Lesperance will continue to manage Sogides, which he founded in 1967, Quebecor Media said.

On the broader issue of how the merger would affect the Quebec book industry, the bureau found that existing competition will remain significant and barriers to entry by newcomers aren't high enough to attempt to block the deal.

Quebecor Media, which is jointly owned by Quebecor Inc. and the Caisse de depot pension plan, also announced Tuesday that it had closed the deal.

Sogides Ltee is the largest publishing and distribution group in Quebec.

It includes Editions de l'Homme, Le Jour, Utilis, Les Presses Libres and Groupe Ville-Marie Litterature and a distribution subsidiary, Les Messageries A.D.P., which distributes books for over 110 publishers from Quebec and abroad.

Quebecor Media, which has a wide range of broadcasting, publishing, online and communications businesses, said the acquisition will enable it to offer a more complete range of books from Quebec.

Quebecor CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau said the company has been involved in book distribution for more than 20 years and in book publishing for more than 10 years through publishing houses such as Libre Expression, Stanke, Trecarre, Logiques and educational publisher CEC.

"With the increased consolidation of publishing houses worldwide, Quebecor is proud to join forces with another great builder of the Quebec book industry, Mr. Pierre Lesperance. A solidified base in Quebec will strengthen our marketing potential and improve our ability to support our authors globally," Peladeau said.

Quebecor Inc. shares (TSX:QBR.SV.B) closed Tuesday at $25.10, down three cents, at the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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