Anthony Lacavera’s Globalive Capital Inc. has made a bid to buy Shaw Communications Inc.’s SJR-A-X Freedom Mobile for $3.75-billion as Rogers looks to gain regulatory approval for its takeover of Calgary-based Shaw.
The financing would be provided by 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, according to a source. The Globe is not identifying the individual because the discussions are confidential.
The all-cash offer to acquire Freedom Mobile’s wireless licenses, customer accounts, cellphone towers and stores was presented to Rogers last week, the person said.
When reached by The Globe, Mr. Lacavera said he has previously expressed his interest in the assets publicly and has no further comment. Representatives of Twin Point Capital and Baupost did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A spokesperson for Rogers declined to comment.
Mr. Lacavera founded wireless upstart Wind Mobile in 2008. In 2016, it was sold for $1.6-billion to Shaw, which renamed it Freedom Mobile. Today, Freedom has about two million wireless subscribers in Alberta, B.C. and Ontario, making it the country’s fourth-largest wireless carrier.
Critics have credited Freedom with driving competition in the wireless industry, and have argued that allowing Rogers to acquire the unit would lead to higher cellphone bills.
The Globe previously reported that Rogers Communications Inc. RCI-B-T has initiated talks with prospective buyers for Freedom Mobile, and that Quebecor Inc., which has publicly expressed interest in the assets, is absent from those talks.
Rogers’ $26-billion takeover of Shaw is under review by three regulators: the Competition Bureau, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. Both companies have said they expect the deal to close by the end of June.
Earlier this month, Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne said he would not allow Rogers to acquire all of Shaw’s wireless licences, as doing so would be incompatible with Ottawa’s desire for competition in the sector.
Tony Staffieri, president and chief executive officer of Rogers, has said he will work with regulators to find a solution that achieves their objective of having a fourth wireless player.
“This was, from the very outset, a cable acquisition for us,” Mr. Staffieri said during a telecom, media and technology conference held by Bank of Nova Scotia last week. “So that’s 90 per cent of the transaction for us and that’s what we’re focused on,” he added.
In a previous interview with The Globe, Mr. Lacavera said his track record of competing against the Big Three wireless carriers (Rogers, BCE Inc.’s Bell Canada and Telus Corp.) when he ran Wind Mobile makes him an attractive bidder from Ottawa’s perspective. He has also said he has a long-term investment horizon and would consider expanding Freedom beyond its current markets.
Desjardins analyst Jérome Dubreuil said in a research note that the offer is “generally aligned with the market’s expected value for the assets.”
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