June 4, 2013 / 3:23 PM / 6 years ago

Wind Mobile's Lacavera eyes Mobilicity after Telus bid thwarted

TORONTO (Reuters) - Anthony Lacavera, the entrepreneur behind the launch of Wind Mobile, said on Tuesday his group is interested in buying Mobilicity after the Canadian government effectively blocked Telus Corp’s (T.TO) bid for the small wireless company.

Anthony Lacavera (R), Chairman of Globalive and WIND Mobile and Ken Campbell, CEO of WIND Mobile, speak at a news conference in Toronto, December 11, 2009. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

The possible combination of the two small wireless carriers would compliment Ottawa’s push to boost competition in the telecommunications sector after the federal government on Tuesday, for the time being, effectively blocked large established providers from buying airwaves from struggling new players.

Industry Minister Christian Paradis earlier on Tuesday quashed the C$380 million ($367.34 million) bid from Telus, Canada’s second largest wireless company by subscribers, for Mobilicity.

“Our past offers for Mobilicity stand and we look forward to having ongoing discussions with them,” Lacavera, Wind’s chairman and chief executive officer, told Reuters at a telecom conference in Toronto.

Lacavera is in the process of transferring his voting interest in Wind Mobile to Russia-focused Vimpelcom Ltd VIP.N, but maintains a minority economic interest.

He said Wind had done due diligence on Mobilicity around a year ago, and that the government’s removal of ambiguity on who could buy the valuable spectrum assets wireless companies covet had reinvigorated his desire for Wind Mobile to grow into a significant fourth national carrier.

Canada’s wireless industry is dominated by Telus, BCE Inc’s Bell unit (BCE.TO) and Rogers Communications (RCIb.TO), which each have more than 7 million customers. Wind has about 600,000.

“What this does is give me and Vimpelcom a solid policy foundation to build a business plan. There was a lot of ambiguity, up until this morning,” Lacavera said.

“That clarity is excellent for all market players. It certainly positions us to revisit the Mobilicity bid.”

Vimpelcom was not immediately reachable for a comment on its plans in Canada after the federal government’s ruling on the Telus offer for Mobilicity.

Debt-laden Mobilicity, which along with Wind and several others bought airwaves in 2008 that Telus and its main rivals were barred from bidding on, has around 250,000 customers but is mostly coveted for its spectrum assets.

“The value in Mobilicity for us is the spectrum,” Lacavera said. “Unfortunately there’s very little value in the network or the subscribers.”

Additional reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Chris Reese

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