Saturday, September 27, 2014



It seemed a straight-forward deal until the Bell accountants started fiddling.
BCE, the Bell Telephone conglomerate, told the Toronto stock market world it would buy the stock it didn't already own of Bell Aliant at $31 a share.
And if too many people wanted that, they would give us some money and the rest in BCE stock.
So I waited to the penultimate day and said through the TD discount brokers I wanted the cash deal, that I wasn't interested in the alternatives.
When the deal was announced, the stock actually traded higher than $31 but then towards the day the deal closed, its price fell below, first by cents, then by dimes.
Finally BCE notified the TD discount brokerag it would pay $14.60 for each of my 500 shares and give me the rest in BCE stock.
Then the obese outfit got cute. The $31 figure was no longer used, but $30.70 since the cheaters said the stock had fallen towards the end. Then BCE argued I had to pay more for the 168 shares I was being given in its stock than if I bought in the open market just days before. Funny how the price managed to go up when the deal closed, not that I would suggest a giant company would actually arrange such an event when it would only save millions of dollars. (Just kidding, of course.)
All you have to do is check BCE's records for Sept. 22 and see that when I was charged $47.90 for my stock, it actually opened at $47.46 and had a low of  $47.38. BCE charged the high for the day.
So the $31 deal for each of my shares really wasn't. The fast-money boys saved around $250 just on me.  Imagine the total savings once BCE finishes slashing at the public like a fox in the henhouse at midnight.
.I would hope that BNN and the Globe and other august observers of the market would not use the $31 figure in recognition of the fact that BCE officials would have to admit under oath that that figure is between a fib or a felony. That may be a vain hope since BCE owns BNN and has 15% of the Globe.
I am reminded of the maxim about figures lie and liars figue. I should have known something like that would happen after all my years being angry at my phone bills.
In fact, I have puzzled inarticulate members in India of the Bell call centre, and an Amex clerk, when I have complained about small amounts creeping into the charges. I grew up with grandparents still wounded by the Great Depression who often used the saying about if you look after the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.
Hardly a fashionable expression these days, not with the penny in disgrace. Yet I know of many very rich people who still check the restaurant bill and who, when they do a deal, battle for every last  fraction of a percentage point.
That's how BCE got rich.

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