Quebecor's Peladeau steps aside, Depatie to take helm

(Reuters) - Canadian media and telecommunications conglomerate Quebecor Inc QBRa.TOQBRb.TO said Chief Executive Pierre Karl Peladeau was stepping down and would be replaced by Robert Depatie, head of the company's Videotron cable and telecoms unit.

The change in leadership comes at a time when the company is struggling with a decline in advertising spending and waning interest in print as readers shift online.

Quebecor shares were down 5 percent at C$43.50 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.

“Because one cannot be a part-time CEO I have decided to retire from my position and devote my time to other pursuits,” Peladeau said on a conference call.

Peladeau, son of Quebecor founder Pierre Peladeau, will become the chairman of Quebecor Media Inc -- whose properties include the Toronto Sun, the Ottawa Sun and le Journal de Montreal -- and TVA Group, the company’s French language TV network.

“My family and I think that the time has come for me to step away from the day-to-day operations and play a different role providing advice and leadership on strategic products vital to the future of our company,” Peladeau said.

He added that he does not intend to sell any of his family shares in the company.

Peladeau, who has served as the CEO of Quebecor for 14 years, oversaw job cuts in its media business last year.

Quebecor also reported on Thursday an 89 percent fall in fourth-quarter profit due to higher costs and a one-time charge.

The company said net income attributable to shareholders, fell to C$9.2 million ($9 million), or 15 Canadian cents per basic share, in the fourth quarter, from C$85.4 million, or C$1.34 per basic share, a year earlier.

It recorded a charge of C$126.5 million on unfavorable variance in gains and losses on valuation and translation of financial instruments and a C$60.4 million loss on debt refinancing.

Revenue fell marginally to C$1.14 billion.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned C$56 million, or 89 Canadian cents per basic share, from continuing operations.

The company said it expects capital spending of C$525 million to C$600 million in 2013, down from C$741 million last year.

The telecommunications business, which accounts for more than half of the company’s total revenue, has been driving growth in the last few quarters. Revenue in the business rose 7 percent to C$678.3 million in the latest quarter.

Telecommunications business includes phone, cable-TV and internet services, which are offered under the Videotron brand.

Revenue in the media business fell by 11 percent to C$244.5 million.

Reporting by Maneesha Tiwari in Bangalore; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Roshni Menon