Wind Mobile Could Go Back to Original Owners

by Istvan Fekete on March 25, 2013

Ahead of the upcoming wireless auction, which could boost wireless competition in the Canadian mobile market, Wind Mobile’s fate seems to be uncertain. While it was a pioneer in the market by becoming the first fully foreign-owned wireless player in Canada, rumours have surfaced that VimpelCom are weighing up the sale of the company.

The news will shake the ground of mobile competition in the country, which is currently 90% owned by three carriers: Rogers, Bell and Telus, as a potential sale leaves few bidders.

The bids were due Friday and brought a pleasant surprise: Wind Mobile founder Anthony Lacavera has made a formal bid to acquire the company back from the Dutch VimpelCom, the current owner.

If Lacavera is able to buy back Wind Mobile from VimpelCom, mobile subscribers should benefit from the deal, says SeaBoard Group analyst Amit Kaminer.

“Second time a charm. This time they are already coming with wind at their backs. They are coming back with their eyes open: today, they know the market better, they know the competition better and they know the challenges ahead,” he said.

According to a source speaking with the Canadian Press, Lacavera and Egyptian billionaire, Naguib Sawiris — the original financial backer of the small wireless carrier when it launched in 2009 — have made an offer to the Dutch telecom company to buy back Wind Mobile.

When asked to comment, VimpelCom remained silent regarding its plans. Their latest statement left room for speculation, however, before the news of their selling the Canadian business surfaced, as the company says it is weighing up its options in the Canadian market.

Among the available options was an in-market merger scenario, with either Public Mobile or Mobilicity, but the two wireless players have remained silent lately. Public Mobile spokeswoman Lisa Papas stressed that at this time the company is not publicly discussing its plans regarding new-entrant consolidation in Canada.

According to the latest public numbers, Wind Mobile is said to have about 600,000 subscribers with its network in Toronto and southern Ontario, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver, although its target was 1.5 million subscribers after three years of operation. The incumbents retain a combined 24 million subscribers.

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Written by: Istvan Fekete. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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