Wind in the sales? Sawiris linked with buyback bid

22 Mar 2013

The founder and CEO of Canadian cellco Globalive Wireless (Wind Mobile), Anthony Lacavera is said to have submitted a joint offer with Wind’s original financial backer, Egyptian entrepreneur Naguib Sawiris, to buy back Wind from multinational telecoms group Vimpelcom, a source familiar with the situation claimed to The Canadian Press. The unnamed source stated that ‘Wind Mobile is for sale and Accelero Capital [a private equity firm founded by Naguib Sawiris] and Anthony Lacavera have made a bid,’ while the report also quotes a research note from Canaccord Genuity analyst Dvai Ghose citing information from several sources that Amsterdam-based Vimpelcom has begun the process to sell Wind Mobile, with ‘initial bids due Friday’ (22 March 2013) and adding that ‘a potential bidder is Accelero Capital, which was founded by [former] Orascom CEO Naguib Sawiris.’ Ghose did not identify Lacavera as being involved in a bid, although his research note questioned ‘if Accelero has enough capital to bid for Wind Mobile Canada without external funding, especially as we assume that any buyer of Wind would have to look to finance the 700MHz and 2500MHz spectrum purchases [in upcoming 2013/2014 auctions] and build LTE, which could in total cost 1.5 billion dollars on top of the acquisition price for Wind.’ Lacavera would not comment on the potential joint buyback bid for Wind, while Vimpelcom also declined to comment in line with a policy not to react to analyst ‘speculation’. In January 2013 Vimpelcom’s Orascom Telecom Holding division (formerly headed by Sawiris, currently led by Ahmed Abou Doma, and in the process of being renamed Global Telecom Holding) agreed to take 99.3% control of Wind via voting shares transferred by Mr Lacavera, who also agreed to step down as CEO upon completion. The deal was made possible by legislative changes removing foreign ownership restrictions from Canadian telcos with a revenue market share of 10% or less. The transactions are pending final regulatory approvals – precluding any subsequent sale of company shares for now.

In another report, from the Globe & Mail, a source was quoted as saying that UBS AG is working for Vimpelcom on the potential sale of Wind Mobile, while another person close to the situation was quoted as saying that Lacavera’s holding company, AAL Corp, and Accelero had already secured additional financing for the joint bid under consideration.

Canada, Freedom Mobile, VEON