Globalive urges Canada to open up telecom sector

Thu Jun 2, 2011 3:12pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

TORONTO (Reuters) - Globalive had no choice but to seek foreign funds for its Wind Mobile wireless service and wants Canada to move quickly to loosen restrictions on telecom sector investment, its chairman said on Thursday.

"It is time for competition to work in this country," Anthony Lacavera told industry executives at the Canadian Telecom Summit in Toronto. "The existing telecommunications foreign control restrictions are, in our view, an overly broad and inefficient regulatory tool," he said.

The company's fate as a contender in Canada's wireless industry rests with the courts, after the government overturned a ruling by the telecom regulator that said funding from Egypt's Orascom Telecom gave the foreign company too much influence.

"The reality is that in order to form an effective, lasting, competitive alternative, we must access an extraordinary amount of capital," Lacavera said in the speech.

He later told Reuters that Globalive had secured more than $200 million worth of additional loans from Orascom, adding to an original $700 million agreement, and that terms had improved as Wind hit performance targets.

Globalive also gets financing in "the hundreds of millions of dollars" from network suppliers and has ample funds for the next two to three years, Lacavera said.

But "investors despise uncertainty," he said, which is why the company has struggled to find willing local partners.

Another new entrant, Mobilicity, raised C$215 million ($219 million) in debt financing in April.   Continued...