BCI Inc. Bell
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  • BCE Inc. announced it will cut 4,800 jobs and sell 45 of its 103 radio stations
  • The largest workforce restructuring in nearly 30 years will drive in-year cost savings of C$150 million to C$200 million
  • BCE will increase its dividend by C$0.12 per share, or 3.1 per cent, to C$3.99
  • Shares of BCE Inc. were down 4.39 per cent at C$50.74 as of 11:21 am ET

BCE Inc. (TSX:BCE) announced Thursday that it will cut 4,800 jobs and sell 45 of its 103 radio stations.

While reporting its fourth quarter and full 2023 financial results, BCE Inc. stated the 9 per cent reduction of jobs is the company’s largest workforce restructuring in nearly 30 years and will drive in-year cost savings of C$150 million to C$200 million.

In an open letter, Mirko Bibic, president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, said the job reductions will be implemented over the coming weeks “at all levels of the company.” BCE subsidiaries include the Bell mobile and internet business and Bell Media business with brands such as CTV, CTV News, TSN, Crave and CP24.

In the latest sign of struggles for Canadian media businesses, Bell Media’s operating revenue decreased 7.5 per cent in Q4 to C$822 million and 4.2 per cent in 2023 to C$3.117 million. BCE’s news release attributed it to lower year-over-year advertising revenue, which was down 13.7 per cent in Q4. Total digital revenues, however, grew 27 per cent in Q4 and 19 per cent in 2023.

BCE also cut 1,300 jobs and divested of nine radio stations back in June.

The Canadian Press reported that another internal memo from Bell Media president Sean Cohan stated the 45 regional radio stations would be sold, pending CRTC approval and other closing conditions, to Vista Radio, Whiteoaks, Durham Radio, My Broadcasting Corp., ZoomerMedia, Arsenal Media and Maritime Broadcasting.

“That’s a significant divestiture. It’s because it’s not a viable business anymore,” Bell chief legal and regulatory officer Robert Malcolmson told The Canadian Press. “We will continue to operate ones that are viable, but this is a business that is going in the wrong direction.”

While 4,800 people, including 750 contractors, are being laid off, BCE will increase its dividend by C$0.12 per share, or 3.1 per cent, to C$3.99.

In its financial results, BCE hit all 2023 guidance targets while operating revenue in Q4 increased 0.5 per cent over Q4 2022 to C$6.473 million, but net earnings in Q4 decreased 23.3 per cent to C$435 million. Other highlights include:

  • Adjusted net earnings were up 5.7 per cent in Q4 to $691 million, delivering a 7.0 per cent increase in adjusted earnings per share to C$0.76. 
  • Adjusted EBITDA was up 5.3 per cent in Q4 to C$2.567 million, reflecting increases of 4.8 per cent at Bell CTS and 14.7 per cent at Bell Media. 
  • BCE cash flows from operating activities in Q4 were C$2.373 million, up 15.4 per cent from Q4 2022

“The Bell team has demonstrated strong executional discipline and cost containment this quarter, enabling Bell to deliver solid results in Q4 and throughout 2023,” Bibic said in a statement.

Bell previously stated it will reduce capital expenditures by more than $1 billion in 2024-25, including a minimum of C$500 million in 2024, and roll back fibre network expansion. It blamed that decision on “federal government policies and the CRTC’s wholesale access rate decision that discourages network investment.” Bell will also cap fibre speeds at three-gigabits per second.

BCE Inc. is a Canada-based communications company. The company provides Bell broadband wireless, internet, TV, media and business communications services. 

Shares of BCE Inc. were down 4.39 per cent at C$50.74 as of 11:21 am ET and are down more than 19 per cent from their 2023 high.

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