Egyptian tycoon says Wind Mobile in peril due to Ottawa policy

Wed Oct 16, 2013 2:41pm EDT
 
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By Alastair Sharp and Euan Rocha

TORONTO Oct 16 (Reuters) - Egyptian telecom magnate Naguib Sawiris said on Wednesday the lack of clarity around Ottawa's telecom policy has put Wind Mobile, the largest new entrant in the Canadian wireless market, at risk of going bust.

Asked about the health of the company, a spokesman for Wind said by email: "We can't comment on Mr. Sawiris' statement as it is his personal opinion and he is no longer connected to Wind Mobile Canada."

Sawiris bank-rolled the start-up of Wind in 2008, but lost his ties to the firm after his controlling stake in Orascom was sold to European telecoms company Vimpelcom in 2011. Orascom had put up most of the funding for Wind's launch.

Sawiris suffered a major setback this month after the Canadian government blocked his attempt to buy Manitoba Telecom Services Inc's Allstream fiber optic network, citing unspecified national security concerns.

"Canada is behaving like a third-world country. It is not behaving like a Western developed economy," Sawiris said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.

"Our Government is open to foreign investment in all sectors of the economy, but not at the expense of the security of Canadians," Jessica Fletcher, spokeswoman to Industry Minister James Moore, said by email.

The market has become increasingly wary about Canadian foreign investment rules after Ottawa blocked a handful of high-profile transactions, including the 2010 attempt by BHP Billiton to buy fertilizer giant Potash Corp.

Last year Ottawa allowed a Chinese firm to buy domestic energy producer Nexen, but made clear it would block further investments in oil sands by foreign state-owned enterprises.   Continued...