Rogers Warns Relaxed Foreign Investment Rules Would Hurt Canada

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Verizon is back. Well, not literally, but behind the statements of Canada’s No. 1 wireless carrier, Rogers. It seems like two red carriers don’t have a place in the country. Or at least foreign investment won’t bring any benefits for Canadian wireless subscribers; instead, it would transform the country into nothing more than a “branch plant,” Edward Rogers, the deputy chairman and executive president of Rogers Communication, suggested (via the Financial Post).

From his perspective, everything is good as it is now: Canada has the best wireless industry, the best cable industry, and great media assets. He warns that by selling, it would cut down investments in innovation and rural coverage, as any new player would focus on urban areas, which bring the most ROI. Considering that these words come from the No. 1 wireless player, it is a no-brainer that they don’t want to sell their assets.

“So the shareholders, maybe the richest executives [would benefit], but we have a hollowing out of Canada after that,” Edward Rogers said of the prospect of allowing Canadian telecom companies to be sold to foreign owners.

“I don’t think there’s any formula where any of these companies are owned outside Canada and they do better for customers. I think you could argue that if we were a branch plant, that Canada would be last…. Is Canada going to continue to innovate and are we going to have wireless coverage in rural areas if owned outside of Canada? My belief is not.”

However, Edward Rogers’ words reflect how the company is changing its tune: Earlier statements coming from Rob Bruce and former CEO Nadir Mohamed were pro-competition and sustained foreign investment. In 2014, Rogers has a different vision about foreign investment, while the other two major players, Telus and Bell, are in favour of foreign investment.

Oh, and one more thing: The government is currently holding a wireless spectrum auction, without any of the wireless startups that launched after 2008. Meanwhile, Rogers continues to strike exclusive deals which strengthen its position in the market.