‘No more fake competition’ in Canada’s telecom sector: Globalive’s Lacavera

TORONTO — Globalive Capital’s Anthony Lacavera is calling for “no more fake competition” in Canada’s wireless services market as his firm continues its quest to buy Freedom Mobile’s assets.

While Lacavera is hoping Globalive will ultimately prevail, he said Monday that any successful acquirer “just needs to be an independent that will compete.”

His comments come after the Globe and Mail reported last week that Rogers Communications Inc. has proposed selling Freedom Mobile to New Brunswick-based rural internet provider Xplornet Communications Inc.

During Rogers’ earnings call last week, CEO Tony Staffieri said that the company wouldn’t comment on “any rumours that are out there.”

The sale of Freedom’s assets is expected to be a regulatory requirement for Rogers’ proposed $26-billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc.

Lacavera said he’s concerned that Canadians could end up with a “totally ineffective competitor” if the federal government doesn’t oversee the sale or intervene.

Lacavera added that François-Philippe Champagne, the federal minister of innovation, science and industry, “should be very concerned about the cosy backroom deals that have underlined this process.”

The federal government is committed to promoting competition and cellphone affordability for Canadians, Champagne spokesperson Laurie Bouchard said.

“As a regulator responsible for approving the transfer of licensed spectrum, (Minister Champagne) will review any applications on their merit and what is in the best interest of Canadians.”

Lacavera threw his hat in the ring late last year and has been ramping up efforts to buy Freedom ever since. Quebecor Inc. and Eastlink, a Halifax-based telco, have also expressed interest in acquiring the wireless carrier.

He says he’d like to see a U.S.-based carrier such as T-Mobile step in, if Globalive isn’t the successful bidder.

Freedom Mobile, formerly known as Wind Mobile, was founded by Lacavera in 2008. After financial troubles and foreign ownership challenges, Wind Mobile was sold to Shaw Communications Inc. in 2016 and underwent a rebrand.

Canadians have been yearning for lower phone, cable and internet bills for years, with rising inflation making it an even more urgent issue. Globalive recently commissioned market research that found 87 per cent of participants believe that high prices are a big problem. 

Earlier this year, Ipsos released a survey that found 72 per cent of respondents believe Canada’s telecom industry needs the most competition out of all other industries.

Lacavera says he is committed to lowering prices if Globalive succeeds in acquiring Freedom.

Meanwhile, the pending Rogers-Shaw deal still requires approval from the Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 25, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B, TSX:SJR.B)

Adena Ali, The Canadian Press

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