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Globalive and Canada's wireless market: The players, the numbers, the rules Add to ...



The foreigner

Naguib Sawiris: 55

  • Known as a shrewd businessman and a gutsy risk-taker.
  • Eldest son of Egyptian billionaire Onsi Sawiris, a self-made man who built a conglomerate around construction that has grown to include telecom, tourism and technology.
  • Chairman and CEO of Orascom Telecom, the biggest wireless company in the Middle East with wireless networks in Egypt, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Algeria, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, and North Korea.
  • Through his holding company, Weather Investments, also owns Italy's Wind Telecommunications and Greece's Wind Hellas. Staggering under billions of dollars of debt, he recently put Greek's third largest carrier up for sale, less than three years after acquiring it.
  • Knows how to make money, and lose money: Fortune magazine valued his wealth at $12.7-billion (U.S.) in 2008 and $3.0-billion in 2009.
  • Holds a diploma of Mechanical Engineering with a Masters in Technical Administration from the Swiss Institute of Technology and a diploma from the German Evangelical School in Cairo.

The entrepreneur

Anthony Lacavera: 35

  • Chairman and CEO of Globalive Communications Corp. Founded the Toronto-based company in 1998 to sell telecom services. Serves more than one million households with its Yak Communications brand. Other brands include OneConnect Services and Canopco Hospitality Telecom. The private company has annual sales of about $125-million (Canadian).
  • Moved into wireless with the purchase of 30 spectrum licences from Ottawa last year.
  • Other business interests include a nanotechnology paint for insulating buildings, a firm that sells English language learning products, and a niche hair salon called Blo Blow Dry Bar.
  • One of three producers of the recent Broadway production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which moves to London's West End in November, starring James Earl Jones.
  • Founded the Shamba Foundation, a not-for-profit organization designed to assist charities with fundraising efforts.


The rules

The Telecommunications Act considers telecom to perform "an essential role in the maintenance of Canada's identity and sovereignty."

The CRTC hearings into Globalive bring two potentially competing objectives of the Act into focus:

  • "to promote the ownership and control of Canadian carriers by Canadians"
  • "to foster increased reliance on market forces for the provision of telecommunications services."

The Act states that a carrier must be Canadian-owned and controlled to operate in the country.

It classifies a corporation as Canadian-owned and controlled if:

  • (a) not less than eighty per cent of the members of the board of directors of the corporation are individual Canadians;
  • (b) Canadians beneficially own, directly or indirectly, in the aggregate and otherwise than by way of security only, not less than eighty per cent of the corporation's voting shares issued and outstanding; and
  • (c) the corporation is not otherwise controlled by persons that are not Canadians.

Globalive Wireless' structure

  • Orascom owns 65 per cent of the equity, Anthony Lacavera holds 35 per cent through his holding company AAL Inc.
  • Orascom holds most of Globalive's debt: namely the bridge loans for $442-million to pay for the spectrum licences and $66-million for startup costs. The parties say they will replace the loans with third-party investment when commercially feasible.
  • Globalive Wireless is owned by two holding companies: Globalive Investment Holdings Corp. (GIHC) and Globalive Canada Holdings Corp. (GCHC). Orascom hold 32.02% of the voting shares in Globalive Investment and 33.33% of the voting shares in Globalive Canada.
  • GIHC board: AAL and Orascom each appoint two directors. A fifth independent direct is to be appointed by special committee.
  • GCHC board: GIHC appoints four and Orascom appoints three directors.
  • GCHC appoints all seven directors of Globalive Wireless.
  • Globalive says the formula gives Orascom a 65-per-cent equity stake and 30-per-cent controlling stake.



The wireless market

Estimated number of Canadian wireless subscribers, including combined market share held by Rogers, Bell and Telus:

  • 2010 - 24.6 million - 96 per cent
  • 2011 - 26.7 million - 90 per cent
  • 2012 - 28.8 million - 84 per cent
  • 2013 - 30.8 million - 80 per cent
  • 2014 - 32.8 million - 76 per cent

Source: Convergence Consulting Group Ltd.



Who's crashing the incumbents' party:

Company (Amount spent on licences) Plans

  • Vidéotron - ($555-million) - Service in Quebec next year.
  • Globalive - ($442-million) - Service in Toronto and Calgary in the next few months, adding Vancouver, Edmonton and Ottawa by May.
  • DAVE Wireless - ($243-million) - Service early next year in Toronto, followed shortly by expansion to as many as 10 other major cities.
  • Shaw Cable - ($190-million) - Construction and launch on hold until economics look better.
  • Public Mobile - ($52-million) - Service as early as this year in some cities in Ontario and Quebec.
  • Bragg Communications - ($26-million) - Undisclosed plans to service the East Coast through its cable arm Eastlink.

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