UPDATE 2-Vimpelcom unit drops bid to control Canada's Wind Mobile

Wed Jun 19, 2013 7:38pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, June 19 (Reuters) - A subsidiary of European telecoms company Vimpelcom Ltd has withdrawn its bid to take control of Canada's Wind Mobile from its founder and chief executive, Anthony Lacavera, a surprise move that creates further uncertainty about the future of the upstart Canadian wireless company.

Orascom Telecom, an Egyptian company that is majority-owned by Vimpelcom, said on Wednesday it has dropped its application to the Canadian government for permission to expand its voting rights from around 32 percent to 65 percent, the size of its stake in Wind.

Lacavera was also planning to sell his remaining one-third stake to Orascom for an undisclosed amount, if Orascom's application was accepted.

Orascom put up most of the funding for Wind's 2009 launch. But rules on foreign ownership initially forced the Egyptian company to accept a minority voting interest.

The Canadian government loosened those rules last year for investment in smaller companies, hoping this would encourage foreign investment and greater competition.

Orascom said it remained interested in consolidating its interest in Wind and was working with Ottawa to this end. It did not elaborate.

Vimpelcom spokesman Bobby Leach said it "wanted to make clear that we may reapply."   Continued...