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CRTC rejects Globalive bid for Telus ownership review

People pass by a Telus store in Toronto on June 3, 2012.

Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail

Canada's telecom regulator has rejected a request from Globalive Wireless Management Corp. to review Telus Corp.'s compliance with foreign investment rules.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission issued a decision Wednesday saying it is "satisfied" with Telus's existing system for ensuring compliance. Under federal law, non-Canadians are prevented from owning more than 33.3 per cent of the voting shares of large telcos like Telus. Smaller players like Globalive, which operates as Wind Mobile, are permitted to be fully foreign-owned since they have a market share of 10 per cent or less.

"The commission does not consider there to be sufficient evidence of non-compliance on the record of this proceeding to warrant a review," the CRTC said.

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Last week, Telus said non-Canadians held roughly 15 per cent of its common shares as of mid-November – down from almost 33 per cent in late June. "This decision verifies that Telus's foreign ownership controls are robust and effective – and have been effective throughout this situation," said spokesman Shawn Hall.

Globalive has no plans to appeal.

"While we respect the commission's decision, we are, of course, disappointed," said chief regulatory officer Simon Lockie. "We consider this a missed opportunity for the commission to provide all industry players with much-needed guidance and clarity on these important matters."

Globalive had filed an application in June asking the CRTC to launch a public inquiry into Telus's foreign ownership. Earlier this year, Telus disclosed that non-Canadian holdings of its voting shares had risen to just under the maximum threshold. That's because U.S. hedge fund Mason Capital Management LLC had acquired a significant voting block as it waged a proxy battle to fight Telus's proposed share conversion plan.

Telus has long maintained that Globalive's application amounted to a "nuisance filing" – regulatory payback for Telus urging the CRTC to review Globalive's foreign ownership structure back in 2009. Globalive moved to quell that criticism Wednesday, noting its motivation was to "help ensure a fair and level playing field that protects all Canadians."

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