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Wind Mobile founder Anthony Lacavera wants to buy Freedom Mobile

If regulators force Rogers to sell Freedom as part of the Shaw deal, Lacavera's ready to buy back his wireless carrier

Wind Mobile founder Anthony Lacavera wants to buy it back, now that the wireless carrier may be up for sale again.

Lacavera founded Wind in 2008 and sold it to Shaw Communications in 2016 for $1.6 billion. Since then, Wind was renamed Freedom Mobile. Now as Rogers works to acquire Shaw for $26 billion, some expect regulators will force it to sell Freedom to avoid a reduction in wireless competition as part of the deal.

A lengthy report from the Globe and Mail details Lacavera’s plan to buy Freedom should the Rogers-Shaw deal come to pass, which involves leveraging a group of investors including pension funds, private equity and family offices. Lacavera declined to share the names of investors with the Globe, although he did admit to sticking with investors from Canada, the U.S. and Britain to avoid controversy (Wind’s launch was delayed due to issues raised by the CRTC over its ownership).

“I think that would be good for the Canadian market if [Freedom] was restored to being an independent, pure play wireless company,” Lacavera told the Globe. Lacavera previously expressed disappointment over the proposed Rogers-Shaw deal, saying that “prices most definitely are going to go up.”

Should Freedom go up for sale and Lacavera succeed in his bid to acquire the carrier, he plans to make 5G accessible to all Canadians with innovative pricing. Additionally, Lacavera believes Canadian wireless rates should be 20 to 30 percent lower. Dynamic pricing could be one way Lacavera will do that — he explained that networks can be dynamic now and that it can switch customers between 5G and 4G depending on their needs. As such, pricing could change dynamically depending on what customers are doing on their phones.

Others are interested in buying Freedom Mobile

However, Lacavera isn’t the only one interested in scooping up Freedom if it goes up for sale. Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau previously expressed interest in buying Freedom as part of its plan to expand Vidéotron into Western Canada.

The Globe notes that Eastlink founder John Bragg also expressed interest in purchasing Freedom, but that the company’s not holding its breath.

However, none of this matters if Freedom doesn’t go up for sale — so far, it’s not clear if it will. Even if selling Freedom becomes part of the Rogers-Shaw deal, it’s unclear how much of the carrier will need to be sold. Rogers may be forced to part with only a certain amount of customers contracts, spectrum licences, physical stores and towers to appease regulators.

Plus, Freedom could find itself behind others on 5G since Shaw opted out of the recent 3,500MHz spectrum auction due to the Rogers acquisition. The 3,500MHz spectrum will be key in rolling out actual 5G since the mid-band spectrum offers several benefits over the low-band 5G currently deployed in Canada.

The CRTC, Competition Bureau and Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development are still reviewing the Rogers-Shaw deal.

Source: Globe and Mail

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