Telecom tycoon says Ottawa's policy imperils Wind, foreign investment
By Alastair Sharp and Euan Rocha
TORONTO (Reuters) - Lack of clarity around Ottawa's telecommunications policy has jeopardized foreign investment in Canada and cast doubt over the future of Wind, the largest new player in the Canadian wireless market, said Egyptian telecom magnate Naguib Sawiris on Wednesday.
Sawiris bankrolled the start-up of new telecom player Wind Mobile in 2008, but he lost his ties with the company after his controlling stake in Orascom was sold to European telecoms firm Vimpelcom Ltd in 2011.
He retained an interest in investing in the Canadian telecom sector until earlier this month, when the Canadian government blocked his bid 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.
Sawiris, whose investment firm Accelero Capital Holdings had offered C$520 million ($500 million) for the Allstream unit, said he was livid about the Allstream ruling and he vowed not to invest any further funds in Canada.
A spokeswoman for the Canadian government, responding to the comments, said Canada "is open to foreign investment in all sectors of the economy, but not at the expense of the security of Canadians."
Investors have become much more wary about Canada's foreign investment rules after Ottawa blocked a handful of high-profile deals, including the 2010 attempt by BHP Billiton to acquire fertilizer giant Potash Corp. Last year, Ottawa allowed a Chinese firm to buy domestic energy company Nexen, but made clear it would block further investments in oil sands by foreign state-owned enterprises.
Sawiris said he now plans to redirect his investment focus toward other markets, including Italy where he has invested heavily in the past. He plans to invest as much as $1 billion in a range of industries in Egypt over the next 18 months. Continued...