A Toronto resident has started a $400-million crowd-funding campaign to purchase Mobilicity, arguing the struggling new-entrant carrier must be saved to preserve competition in the $19-billion wireless market.
Vaughan, Ont.-based Mobilicity, which is legally known as Data & Audio-Visual Enterprises Holdings Inc., is currently in early-stage takeover talks with Verizon Communications Inc. But it seems the U.S. telecom behemoth is not Mobilicity's only interested suitor.
A male, who self-identifies as "Valya Michael" on the Indiegogo crowd-funding platform, is also eyeing a takeover of the start-up carrier and is canvassing grassroots Canadians to raise the necessary funds.
His campaign, entitled "HELP US SAVE MOBILICITY!" had raised a collective total of $233 from three donors as of mid-afternoon on Monday – leaving him just under a month to raise the remaining $399,999,767. The deadline for contributions is Aug. 27 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, according to Indiegogo's website.
"After we have reached our goal we will purchese (sic) Mobilicity and will strive to turn this great company into something great," reads the campaign's page.
If the crowd-funding drive is successful, the organizers are promising to earmark $400-million as follows: $350-million will be used to buy the company; $20-million will be allocated to pay off the company's debt; and $30-million will be spent on more cellular towers and an additional call centre.
"If our campaign dosn't (sic) reach our goal of 400 million we will then refund the money given to us!"
Mr. Michael could not be immediately reached for comment, while Mobilicity's president and chief operating officer Stewart Lyons declined comment on the matter.
The Big Three wireless carriers, meanwhile, are also lobbying the federal government to give them a fair shot at buying new entrant carriers like Mobilicity and Wind.
Incumbents such as Rogers Communications Inc., Telus Corp. and BCE Inc. are prohibited from acquiring those carriers' assets until early 2014. Earlier this year, Ottawa rejected Telus Corp.'s $380-million offer to buy Mobilicity.
For its part, Verizon has signed a non-disclosure agreement with Mobilicity and has tabled a preliminary $700-million offer to buy Wind Mobile, according to sources.