Vimpelcom unit drops bid to buy Canada's Wind Mobile

Wed Jun 19, 2013 12:33pm EDT
 
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - A subsidiary of European telecoms company Vimpelcom Ltd VIP.N has withdrawn its bid to acquire control of Canada's Wind Mobile, a surprise move that creates further uncertainty about the future of the upstart Canadian wireless company.

Orascom Telecom ORTE.CA, an Egyptian company that is majority-owned by Vimpelcom, said on Wednesday it has dropped its application to the Canadian government for permission to take control of Wind. Orascom had initially bankrolled Wind Mobile's operations in Canada before being bought by Vimpelcom.

Orascom said it remained interested in consolidating its interest in Wind and was working with Ottawa to this end.

The fate of Wind is being closely watched by the three big telecoms companies that dominate the Canadian market - BCE Inc (BCE.TO: Quote), Telus Corp (T.TO: Quote) and Rogers Communications Inc (RCIb.TO: Quote) - and the country's Conservative government.

The government has said it wants to see a viable fourth wireless provider in every region of the country to break the stranglehold of the big three.

It had been reviewing Orascom's move to take over Wind for months, and Industry Minister Christian Paradis confirmed on Wednesday that the government no longer has a transaction to review.

OWNERSHIP RULES CHANGED

In January, Wind's founder, entrepreneur Anthony Lacavera, announced plans to step down as chief executive as part of a deal that would give Orascom and parent Vimpelcom control.   Continued...

 
WIND Mobile cell phones are displayed at a retail store before the official launch of WIND Mobile, a new cellular service for the Canadian market, in Toronto, December 16, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch