Freedom Mobile’s Original Founder Wants to Buy it Back

According to The Globe and Mail, Freedom Mobile’s original founder and CEO, Anthony Lacavera, would like to buy it back if it ends up on the market following Rogers Communications Inc.’s proposed takeover of parent company Shaw Communications Inc.

Freedom Mobile was established in 2008 by Lacavera as Wind Mobile. Lacavera built the wireless upstart into Canada’s fourth-largest carrier, before selling it off to Shaw for $1.6 billion in 2016.

Earlier in the year, Rogers signed a deal to acquire Shaw Communications for $16 billion, pending approval from the Competition Bureau, the CRTC, and Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada.

Analysts predict that regulatory approval of the merger will be contingent upon Rogers selling off Freedom Mobile to prevent a significant dip in competition in Canada’s wireless market.

“I think that would be good for the Canadian market if [Freedom] was restored to being an independent, pure-play wireless company,” said Lacavera. The former Freedom Mobile CEO has already put together a group of investors to bid for the carrier in the event that it is put up for sale.

According to an analyst report from earlier this year, whoever ends up buying Freedom Mobile will have to invest between $300 million and $1.5 billion on top of the carrier’s sticker price into building out its 5G networks.

While Lacavera declined to divulge exactly who will be financing his bid, he said the group includes “long term, patient capital,” such as pension funds, private equity, and family offices, in addition to himself.

Should he succeed in buying back the wireless carrier, Lacavera aims to make 5G more accessible in Canada and give the Big Three telecoms a run for their money with innovative, competitive pricing.

However, the former Freedom Mobile CEO isn’t the only one ready to cut a check for the company, which might not even become available for sale. Quebecor Media Inc. has not only expressed interest in buying Freedom but has also demonstrated that it can afford the acquisition, and Eastlink Inc. has said it is considering throwing its hat in the ring as well.

The potential sale of Freedom Mobile has even drawn the attention of private equity and several pension funds, according to The Globe and Mail‘s anonymous sources.

“I’m expecting it’s going to be a competitive process,” said Lacavera in an interview. “Obviously, I think I have the most knowledge of the asset. I built it from scratch.”