Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) shareholders have voted 99.6% in favour of the provincial telco’s acquisition by BCE (Bell Canada). As announced at the start of last month, BCE agreed to acquire of MTS in a transaction valued at around CAD3.9 billion (USD3.1 billion) including debt, whilst as part of measures to gain regulatory approval for the deal BCE also plans to offload one-third of MTS’ post-paid wireless customers to rival nationwide operator Telus. Bell also pledged to invest CAD1 billion over five years in high speed fibre and 4G LTE across Manitoba. The group plans to rename Manitoban operations as Bell MTS. BCE will pay for the shares with a combination of 45% cash and 55% in BCE shares.
Court approval for the merger will be sought next week, before seeking permission from three regulators: Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada (formerly Industry Canada) will rule on the competition issue relating to Bell-MTS wireless spectrum concentration in Manitoba; the Canadian Radio-television & Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will examine any issues concerning transfer of TV broadcasting licences; and the Competition Bureau will make a judgement on the deal regarding its overall impact on the competitive landscape for consumers. The process is expected to take until late-2016 or early-2017.