After spending months hunting down new investors for Wind Mobile, Anthony Lacavera is stepping aside as chief executive officer of the wireless startup.
Chief operating officer Pietro Cordova will take over the job of CEO and Mr. Lacavera will remain chairman of the board and continue to pursue strategic opportunities, the company said Monday.
The promotion largely confirms Mr. Cordova's current role with the company, whose day-to-day operations he has been leading for the past two years.
Wind is closing in on 800,000 subscribers and announced a deal last month for Mr. Lacavera's holding company to buy out the carrier's foreign owner, Amsterdam-based VimpelCom Ltd.
He financed the transaction with the backing of a consortium of private equity investors, including hedge funds West Face Capital, based in Toronto, and California-based Tannenbaum Capital Partners.
The deal came more than a year after a failed attempt by Mr. Lacavera to sell his equity and controlling voting stake in the carrier to VimpelCom subsidiary Global Telecom Holding SAE (formerly called Orascom Telecom Holding SAE). In June, 2013, Orascom withdrew its application to gain full control of the company after the federal government raised national security concerns.
"The recent regulatory challenge surrounding the unspecified national security concerns over the VimpelCom investment in Wind was almost fatal, but now we have successfully recapitalized Wind and it is on a solid, profitable growth track," Mr. Lacavera wrote in an e-mail Monday.
"As such, I am comfortable stepping back somewhat, and handing the day-to-day entirely to Pietro, who has been doing varying degrees of it as COO for the past two-plus years successfully," he added.
Wind, which operates only in major Canadian cities in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia, still needs new capital to invest in its network and acquire more spectrum – the radio waves used to build cellular networks. The recapitalization gives it some breathing room, but Mr. Lacavera, who remains a shareholder, said he will continue to work on new business opportunities for the company.
Quebecor Inc., which is considering an expansion of its Vidéotron Ltd. wireless business outside of Quebec, could be a potential partner for Wind. Fellow new entrant Mobilicity, which has been under creditor protection for more than a year, is also looking for options and could play a role in a consolidated fourth carrier to take on the national players in Ontario, Alberta and B.C.
Mr. Lacavera said he also plans to devote more of his time to new technology startups through his investment firm Globalive Capital.
The fund grew out of the investing activities of Globalive Communications Corp., the company Mr. Lacavera has run with his business partners for more than 15 years. The firm's main investment has been Wind Mobile, but it has also backed dozens of other ventures, primarily in the technology space.
"This change at Wind gives me more time to go back to founding and financing early-stage companies," Mr. Lacavera said.
He added that he is particularly interested in the areas of augmented reality and cryptocurrency, where, he said, "I am – perhaps naively – optimistic there will be a few less regulatory and legal battles than I have faced at Wind."
Mr. Cordova joined the Canadian carrier in July, 2012, after more than six years with Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA in Italy. He previously held senior roles with Atlantia Group and Telecom Italia and lived in Toronto in the 1990s when he worked in the Canadian financial industry.
He takes over as CEO effective immediately, the company said.