WIND Mobile CEO to step down after selling shares to Orascom Telecom

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Jan 182013

WIND MobileOrascom Telecom and today announced that it will buy WIND Mobile CEO Anthony Lacavera’s stake in the company in a move that will also see Lacavera step down as CEO. Pending approvals, Lacavera’s holding AAL Corporation will transfer its indirect 66.7% voting share in Globalive Wireless Management Corp., operating in Canada as WIND Mobile, to Orascom. When the dust settles, Orascom will have an “indirect 99.3% interest in Globalive Wireless Management Corp,” making it Canada’s first fully foreign-owned carrier.

“As an entrepreneur, my vision was to ignite change across the wireless landscape in Canada, bringing more competition, better prices and superior service to Canadians,” said Mr. Lacavera. “And that is exactly what we did. Now that I am confident WIND Mobile Canada is on a course for long-term success, I can focus on launching Globalive Capital to make targeted investments in companies that share my entrepreneurial vision and continue to support innovation through new and emerging entrepreneurs.”

Lacavera founded WIND Mobile in 2008. The carrier went live in late 2009. Its early days were marked by a number of lawsuits and accusations that it did not meet foreign ownership rules. It has weathered all the challenges and has established itself as the country’s fourth largest network with over 600,000 subscribers. Lacavera will now turn his attention to a new initiative, Globalive Capital, and will become WIND Mobile’s Honorary Chair when the deal closes.

It remains to be seen which direction WIND Mobile will go in under its new leadership. Former Orascom Telecom chairman Naguib Sawiris once said that he regretted ever getting involved in Canada. And VimpelCom, Orascom’s parent company, is also said to be “less enthusiastic about its Canadian assets.”

Are more shakeups in the Canadian telecom sector coming in 2013?

Read more: WIND Mobile and The Globe and Mail

Former Orascom chairman regrets getting involved in Canada

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Nov 172011

WIND MobileFormer 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?

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