WIND Mobile founder partners with equity firm to buyout Vimpelcom’s remaining shares

by Christina Peden

Wind Mobile founder Tony Lacavera has announced a new partnership with Canadian private equity firm West Face Capital and other investors to buy out VimpelCom’s majority share in the company.

WIND Mobile founder Tony Lacavera

VimpleCom, a Dutch-Russian owner tech conglomerate, has been trying to offload its Wind shares since acquiring Egyptian-owned Orascom, which financed Wind prior to its launch in 2009.

So, what does all this mean for Canadian consumers?

Most importantly, it could mean a more competitive wireless landscape.

In January, VimpelCom refused to sign off on a deal which would have allowed Wind to purchase some of Canada’s coveted 700 MHz wireless spectrum. This purchase could have helped solidify their place as a legitimate fourth player in Canada. As it stands, the ‘Big Three’ — Rogers, Bell and Telus —control 90% of the market.

Wind Mobile currently has 750,000 customers, mostly in populated areas of Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta. Right now it relies on access to one of the Big Three’s national networks and partnerships with smaller regional networks to provide service to its customers.

Right now, it’s unclear just how much these new investors are willing to spend to bolster Wind’s place in the Canadian marketplace, but the news certainly comes at an interesting time.  Next year will see a new government auction of 2500 MHz wireless spectrum, with 60% of the airwaves set aside for smaller mobile providers like Wind, Videotron and Mobilicity.

Today’s buyout announcement could mean that Wind will have the funds needed to purchase a significant portion of the airwaves up for grabs, giving them a viable shot at becoming the fourth major player on Canada’s mobile scene.

The AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction is slated to take place in April 2015.

 

Source: CBC

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