MTS Shareholders “Overwhelmingly Approve” Acquisition by Bell

MTS has announced a majority of its shareholders have approved the plan by BCE to acquire the company, with 99.66% of 43,098,172 votes cast in favour of the deal, set at a special shareholders meeting this morning in Winnipeg.

Jay Forbes, President & CEO of MTS, said in a statement “MTS shareholders have overwhelmingly supported the BCE transaction,” adding “This strong support reflects the meaningful value that shareholders will receive as a result of this transaction, which also provides compelling benefits to MTS customers, employees and to the province of Manitoba. With these shareholder approvals in place, we will continue to work with BCE to secure the necessary regulatory approvals with a view to closing the transaction as expected.”

George Cope, President and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, reacted to the approval by saying “We are happy that MTS shareholders so clearly support the creation of Bell MTS and our plan to deliver the world’s best fibre and mobile broadband services to Manitobans.”

Bell and MTS announced a deal back in May, which would see the former acquire the latter in a $3.9 billion deal; in a move to appeal to regulators, one-third of postpaid wireless subscribers will be divested to TELUS, along with the same percentage of MTS dealer locations as well.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister previously commented on the deal, saying “We’ve had cheaper, limited services. Now we get better service,” adding “you get what you pay for,” referring to the expected added coverage to dead zones in the province, as part of Bell’s plan to invest $1 billion over five years to extend infrastructure.

Critics of the deal believe the elimination of a fourth regional player in Manitoba will increase wireless prices. Shortly after the deal, Rogers hiked prices in the province by an extra $5 per month.

The transaction is still subject to approval from final order by the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench, the CRTC, the Competition Bureau, and the the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED).

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