According to the minister in charge of SaskTel, preliminary discussions have been taking place with several companies over the possibility of a partnership, reports Global News.
“I would say that there has been discussions around a potential partnership that the government, certainly, and I feel warrant some further investigation and some further discussion,” minister Dustin Duncan said on Tuesday.
Duncan said if talks proceeded to the point where the government could secure the protection SaskTel’s head office in Regina or help create jobs, they would be disclosed publicly. But for now, no details were provided on which companies were involved with discussions.
Opposition NDP critic Warren McCall slammed the government, saying it was unacceptable negotiations were held behind closed doors, with no details being released for the public.
“People have good reason to be concerned about what they’re hiding now,” said McCall, adding “The Sask. Party changed the law to scrap important protections of our Crowns, laughed off suggestions that they were planning sell-offs, and then tried to hide meetings they were having with potential buyers.”
SaskTel had a net income of $134.8 million in 2016-2017, up $28.9 million from the year ago ago period, with operating revenues of $1.277 billion. Wireless composed of nearly 41 per cent of those revenues, followed by wireless data at 26% and long distance at 20 per cent.
McCall argued these positive numbers offer dividends ($30 million) for Saskatchewan taxpayers and the “annual report illustrates literally millions of reasons why SaskTel should not be sold off.”
Back in March, Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall said SaskTel would not be sold, however controversial privatization law known as Bill 40 allows a crown corporation to be sold up to 49%, to still allow the government full control over any potential partnerships.
Bell recently acquired MTS in Manitoba, leaving SaskTel as the remaining regional player in Western Canada to take on the Big 3.