Former Orascom Telecom chairman Naguib Sawiris said in an interview that he regrets ever getting involved in Canada. WIND Mobile’s parent company Globalive received substantial financing from Orascom to help it launch in 2009. Orascom’s investment resulted in lengthy legal issues for the new Canadian carrier over its ownership status, first delaying its launch and then causing uncertainty over its ability to operate in Canada. The whole matter is now headed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Sawiris said that Canada’s reluctance to open up to foreign direct investment for foreign capital is due to “very ridiculous old laws” and adds that “There’s no real political will here to introduce competition into this closed market.” He also added that WIND Mobile will not bid in Canada’s upcoming 700MHz auction unless spectrum is set aside for newer carriers. “We would like to, but these are not fair rules,” he said. “Our position is clear: if they don’t set aside, we won’t bid for it — why would we go in and just increase the price so the government makes more money and we get devastated,” he explained.
Interestingly, VimpelCom, the company that last year acquired Orascom Telecom, is already in talks with WIND Mobile to offer more than CA$500 million to the carrier for the upcoming auction. The funding appears to be contingent on spectrum being set aside for Canada’s newer carriers.
Is this nothing more than posturing as the Canadian government decides on the rules for the 700MHz auction?