Following recent news that Globalive Wireless (Wind Mobile) could be put up for sale, two other second-tier Canadian cellcos are also looking for buyers, according to local reports. On Friday the Globe & Mail said that the owners of Mobilicity are in detailed negotiations with larger operator Telus over a potential ownership deal, while Public Mobile has hired investment bankers to find a buyer. Mobilicity refused to comment on the matter when asked by IT World Canada. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Mobilicity’s voting shares are majority-owned by Obelysk, the diversified investment arm of Toronto entrepreneur John Bitove, although a majority of its equity is held by Quadrangle Capital Partners of New York, while Public Mobile (the trading name of BMV Holdings) is run by a large consortium of US and Canadian private equity firms.
The smaller operators are thought to be looking at ways to raise funds to compete in the upcoming 700MHz spectrum auction later this year, although it is not clear whether the government and regulatory authorities will allow Telus, or one of its national rivals Rogers and Bell, to buy one of the newer cellcos which entered the market via the 2008 AWS spectrum auction. The AWS spectrum cannot be sold until 2014; Rogers recently signed an option to buy the unused AWS spectrum of cableco Shaw Communications, a transaction which also cannot be implemented until 2014.