Canada's Wind Mobile gets new CEO, directors after Vimpelcom exit

Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:00pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO, March 23 (Reuters) - Wind Mobile, Canada's No. 4 wireless provider, named a new chief executive officer and several new board members on Monday, months after the acrimonious exit of its biggest shareholder.

Alek Krstajic, who had run fellow small player Public Mobile before it was bought by much larger operator Telus Corp in 2013, replaces Pietro Cordova as CEO. Cordova had been appointed by Wind's former majority shareholder, Vimpelcom, a European operator.

Cordova helped Wind "to continue growing during the very difficult period of the protracted Vimpelcom exit from its investment," said the company's founder, Anthony Lacavera, who is stepping down as chairman but retains an ownership stake.

Vimpelcom sold its majority stake in Wind at a sharp discount last year after the Canadian government rebuffed its attempts to get a voting interest in the company commensurate with its equity interest.

Rob MacLellan of Northleaf Capital Partners will replace Lacavera as chairman. T-Mobile US executive David Carey and former T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom executive Hamid Akhavan of Telecom Ventures LLC will also join the Wind board.

Wind, which was launched in 2009 and has more than 800,000 subscribers, has struggled to compete with Canada's three national operators as it has burned through cash to buy airwaves and expand its infrastructure. It is aiming to turn a profit this year.

The country's three big players - Telus, BCE Inc's Bell and Rogers Communications Inc - each have more than 8 million mobile customers.

Earlier this month, Wind was able to buy spectrum licenses in most of its operational footprint in the provinces of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia for the minimum auction bid price under a government plan to spur competition. (Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson; and Peter Galloway)