Russian-backed telecoms group Vimpelcom and its Egyptian-based subsidiary Global Telecom Holding (GTH) jointly announced today that they have agreed to sell all of their debt and equity interest in the Globalive group of companies in Canada, including Globalive Wireless Management Corp (Wind Canada), the operator of the Wind Mobile cellular network. Canada’s Globalive Capital (formerly AAL Holdings), the controlling shareholder of Wind Canada, and a group of investment funds are acquiring the entire Vimpelcom/GTH share for approximately CAD135 million (USD121.9 million), with the proceeds going to Vimpelcom in repayment of part of the debt owed to it, the group’s press release disclosed. At the same time, GTH will be released from all of its obligations under a related Shareholders Agreement and certain debt obligations of Wind Canada. The transaction is expected to close ‘shortly’, the release added. Under the deal, Globalive’s chairman and CEO Anthony Lacavera will continue to lead Wind Mobile, in partnership with investors led by Canadian hedge fund West Face Capital and US-based Tennenbaum Capital, the Globe & Mail reported earlier.
Vimpelcom, which is US-listed and headquartered in the Netherlands but remains majority Russian-owned, entered Wind Mobile’s ownership through its acquisition of Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Holding (later renamed GTH) in 2011. Globalive Capital currently controls a 66.7% voting interest and 34.3% economic stake in Wind Mobile, whilst GTH controls 65.08% of equity and 32.02% of voting shares in the cellco. The Canadian government blocked GTH from increasing its voting share to a majority interest in 2013 for undisclosed reasons, causing Vimpelcom/GTH to withhold additional investment in the venture – meaning that it boycotted Canada’s 700MHz 4G mobile licence auction. It is hoped that the takeover by the Canadian-US investment consortium should enable Wind to participate in further upcoming spectrum auctions.