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Naguib Sawiris at Claridge's hotel in London (Jonathan Worth)
Naguib Sawiris at Claridge's hotel in London (Jonathan Worth)

Globalive financier Naguib Sawiris: 'We will make pain, and they will suffer' Add to ...

Do you see a day when Orascom and other global telecom players have more of a presence in Canada?

I think we will get credit for that-that we had the balls and the guts to endure all these agonies. And some of them remain. We are being confronted now with unfair competitive measures. Roaming is a seamless process in all the world. This is the only country in the world where if you roam on an incumbent, your phone gets cut off when you go from one area to the other. Everything we require them to do, they don't do. They delay. And if we are, as the strongest new entrant, incurring all these obstacles, what about the smaller ones? Mobility. And what's that other one? They will die. I call them dead-on-arrivals. So these measures are torpedoing competition. And the trick they have now is, one of the incumbents-without naming names-uses another brand to offer the same service with two prices for its consumers. It's the same people, and they're only offering this low price in the areas where we operate-depriving all these other customers of the same price.

Rogers, Telus and Bell all have discount brands. Which means their objective is not to give good service and good prices to consumers. No, it's to kill competition. It would be unlawful anywhere in the world. When we become stronger, we will hit back. And we will make pain, and they will suffer. Because we would have preferred for them to live and let live, but if they play unfairly, our day of revenge will come.

It looks like the government is going to liberalize foreign ownership rules. If you don't do that, your country will always remain hostage to local constraints. Because exposing yourself to other players-that's when you really see if you're up to the challenge or not. If you are playing hockey only in Canada and have never played against the U.S. or Russia or Norway, how would you know that you're really the best?

Do you see people like Vodafone or France Telecom coming in? They are not like us. I mean, we are crazy. Adventurous. Our motto is, we go where people don't dare to go. These are bigger companies with a legal department of 100 people who will tell them why they should not come to Canada. Same report? I tore it up, and I paid the money. That's the difference. Sometimes, the legal advice can screw a company. I've never, ever listened to my lawyer. I was always right not to listen. In the foreign ownership hearings, Bell said you were offside and offered to buy up your wireless licences at 50% of what you paid for…Worse than that, two of them offered to buy me out at a very significant profit. But that means I'm a broker, not an industrialist. I'm not the kind of guy who goes for the money-it's about success. And this, I would consider it a bribe: We give you some more money, but go home and don't make our life difficult. It would also be an admission of failure, which is not in my character.

Your holding company, Weather Investments, is in discussions with Russian telecom giant VimpelCom. What can you say about that? We are not just talking to them. We are talking to anybody. We said clearly, a long time ago, that anybody who believes in my consolidation theory is welcome to come to us and discuss with us. We believe the telecom industry will have to consolidate. The vendors of equipment are shrinking, so the leverage you have in getting competitive pricing is becoming more difficult. You used to have Alcatel and Lucent. They are now one. You used to have Siemens and Nokia. They are now one. Size will matter-you will get a better price if you're bigger.

You're known for setting up telecom businesses in risky markets, like Iraq and Pakistan. Do you see any similarities between them and Canada? I hate to tell you this: It was much easier in the emerging markets than trying to do business here. We've never had this kind of red tape.

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