Canada's banking and financial services sector is dominated by an oligopoly: Anthony Lacavera
After years spent challenging Canada’s Big Three telecom firms, the founder of Freedom Mobile is now bringing his playbook to what he calls the country’s banking “oligopoly.”
Anthony Lacavera’s investment firm Globalive Capital is leading a bid to acquire a majority of Wealth One Bank of Canada in a structure which would see a special purpose vehicle take over the small lender. Globalive and partners would take 54 per cent of the vehicle for about $51 million (US$38 million) with existing shareholders remaining as a minority, according to an investor presentation seen by Bloomberg.
The slide deck, which lists Lacavera alongside Wealth One Chief Executive Officer Paul Leonard, describes possible subsequent capital injections in several years’ time totaling as much as $200 million. The approach was first reported by the Globe & Mail.
“What I’m focused on is capitalizing the bank further to grow what is already an existing solid platform,” Lacavera said Friday in a BNN Bloomberg television interview. He said the bid is backed by domestic and U.S. sources, but declined to elaborate on financial specifics.
“We see some 500,000 new Canadians coming in every year, and of course they’re looking for telecoms, which we’ve serviced in the past, and of course looking for banking relationships, which we will service now hopefully, with regulatory approvals, going forward,” he said. “From there we will most certainly expand into offerings for all Canadians.”
Wealth One, opened in 2016 with an initial focus on the country’s Chinese community, is in play because Canada’s Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland told three of its investors last year to cut ties. Those shareholders face scrutiny from national security authorities about alleged links to the Chinese government, the Globe previously reported. As such, any potential deal would require government and regulatory approvals.
Wealth One has a Schedule 1 bank license, which gives domestic banks the right to take customer deposits and can take years to obtain. The Toronto-based lender didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.