Anthony Lacavera’s Globalive Capital is ramping up its efforts to buy back Shaw Communications’ Freedom Mobile, as Rogers seeks regulatory approval for its takeover of Calgary-based Shaw.
In an open letter published on social media Wednesday, Mr. Lacavera urges Ottawa to ensure that the buyer of Freedom, which has about two million customers in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, is “truly independent.”
The Globe and Mail previously reported that Globalive Capital Inc. has offered $3.75-billion for Canada’s fourth-largest wireless carrier. The bid has financial backing from a group of investors led by Twin Point Capital, a U.S. principal investment firm founded by Lawrence Guffey and Jonathan Friesel, and Baupost Group, a Boston-based investment manager.
“We need a mobile carrier that has to earn the business of Canadians every single day, a mobile wireless carrier that doesn’t have current or historical ties to the Big Three carriers – no cozy personal relationships, employment history or closed-door, back-room deals,” the letter reads. (The Big Three wireless carriers referred to in the letter are BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada, Telus Corp. and Rogers Communications Inc.)
A spokesperson for Rogers declined to comment.
Rogers’ $26-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc., which would combine two of Canada’s largest cable networks, is under review by the Competition Bureau and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.
Mr. Lacavera founded Wind Mobile in 2008, after acquiring wireless airwaves that Ottawa had set aside to encourage competition in the mobile market. In 2016, Wind was sold for $1.6-billion to Shaw, which renamed it Freedom Mobile. Mr. Lacavera has said that he was against selling the company, but investors forced his hand.
Mr. Lacavera is not the only suitor circling Freedom Mobile. The Globe has reported that Xplornet Communications Inc., a small rural internet provider owned by New York-based private-equity firm Stonepeak Infrastructure Partners, is one of several companies that has held talks with Rogers about buying Freedom.
Freedom has been credited with driving down wireless prices, and critics have argued that allowing Rogers to acquire the business would result in higher cellphone bills.
Innovation Minister François-Philippe Champagne has said that allowing Rogers to acquire all of Shaw’s wireless licences would be incompatible with Ottawa’s desire for competition in the sector.
Mr. Lacavera has argued that his track record of competing against the Big Three telecoms makes him an attractive buyer. “The launch of Wind resulted in an average savings of $400 a year to every Canadian household with a mobile plan, whether they were a Wind customer or not,” the letter says.
Laurie Bouchard, a spokesperson for Mr. Champagne, said the minister “will review any applications on their merit and what is in the best interest of Canadians.”
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