Canada approves sale of Wind Mobile to founder and his backers

Tue Nov 4, 2014 4:00pm EST
 
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TORONTO/OTTAWA Nov 4 (Reuters) - The Canadian government has approved the sale of Wind Mobile to a private equity consortium led by founder Anthony Lacavera, the country's industry ministry said on Tuesday.

Industry Minister James Moore said that in order to win approval, the new owners agreed to spend heavily to buy airwaves and grow their business while keeping a suitably Canadian corporate profile.

"In making my determination, I concluded that this acquisition will contribute to a more robust and competitive wireless industry in Canada," Moore said in a statement.

Globalive Capital, the investment vehicle of Wind Mobile founder and chairman Anthony Lacavera, formed a group that agreed to pay Europe-based Vimpelcom Ltd just C$135 million ($118.45 million) for its majority equity stake in Wind.

Wind, the country's No. 4 wireless provider, has struggled to compete with three national operators while burning through cash to buy airwaves and expand its infrastructure.

It has built out a network in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta after buying set-aside spectrum in a 2008 auction.

It pulled out of another auction of airwaves earlier this year as Vimpelcom balked at investing more in the wireless upstart with no sign it would be allowed to take control of it.

"These approvals reinforce the government's commitment to wireless competition in Canada, and signal Wind Mobile's stable ownership," Wind's Lacavera said in a statement.

Wind Mobile lags far behind the three biggest players - Telus Corp, BCE Inc's Bell, and Rogers Communications Inc - which each have at least 10 times more subscribers.

(1 US dollar = 1.1397 Canadian dollar) (Reporting by Alastair Sharp and Leah Schnurr; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Chizu Nomiyama)