New wireless player Wind Mobile will no longer be Canadian under telecom deal

The Canadian Press
Associated Press

TORONTO - Small Canadian wireless player Wind Mobile has signed a deal with a global telecom company to be fully foreign owned and controlled.

Wind Mobile chairman and CEO Anthony Lacavera says the agreement is with VimpelCom subsidiary Orascom, already an owner and original financial backer of Wind.

The deal requires regulatory approval and comes after recent changes by Industry Canada allowing companies with less than 10 per cent of the telecom market to have no restrictions on foreign investment.

Lacavera says if the deal goes ahead, Wind Mobile will be the first carrier to be foreign owned and controlled in Canada under the new rules.

He says he'll still have an economic stake in Wind Mobile and will stay on until the deal closes, but plans to start a venture capital company focused on telecom, technology and media.

Wind Mobile now has 600,000 subscribers. It launched in late 2009 after a cabinet order overturned a CRTC ruling which said the company wasn't Canadian owned or control at the time due to foreign investment.

Canada's largest telecom companies, Rogers, Bell and Telus, have more than 24 million wireless customers combined.