WIND Mobile has announced its parent company, Egypt’s Orascom (now part of Amsterdam’s VimpelCom) is set to take majority control of the company as its former non-voting shares are set to turn into voting shares, should shareholders approve their proposal to take control.
Last night, the Globe and Mail reported this move was seen by many to foreshadow a future WIND takeover of rival Mobilicity:
Earlier this year, the federal government introduced new measures that allow for 100-per-cent foreign ownership of telcos with a market share of 10 per cent or less. Nonetheless, the market is likely to view Orascom’s proposed takeover as a precursor to a merger or takeover of smaller new entrant Mobilicity.
For more than a year now, there has been persistent speculation about a Wind-Mobilicity union.
Until now, however, Wind’s complicated ownership structure, along with various financial issues, have be key obstacles to securing a deal, according to sources.
This morning, WIND Mobile issued their own statement, with Chairman and CEO Tony Lacavera denying the earlier rumours of a merger with Mobilicity:
“VimpelCom Group and WIND Mobile remain committed to the Canadian marketplace and becoming Canada’s fourth-largest carrier,” said Tony Lacavera, Chairman and CEO of WIND Mobile. “Contrary to certain preliminary stories in the media this morning, while we’re always considering our strategic options, the company is not currently engaged in any active merger discussion. One thing remains unchanged – our commitment to offering Canadians simple, fair and easy-to understand wireless plans at an affordable rate.”
Orascom is owned by Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris who financially backed WIND Mobile’s entry into Canada in 2008, a move he later regretted due to the ‘protected’ Canadian mobile market. WIND was initially denied the right to start up in Canada by the CRTC as they questioned their ability to meet ownership and control requirements, but the Federal Government intervened and overruled the decision.
WIND Mobile offers competitive pricing and data plans to their 500,000 plus customers, such as their $40/month unlimited plan, which consists of unlimited Canada-wide talk, text and data.
Unfortunately the WIND Mobile network operates on the AWS frequency and does not support the iPhone, which is seen by many as a barrier to compete with well-established incumbents Rogers, TELUS and Bell.