(Bloomberg) -- Canadian entrepreneur Anthony Lacavera says he’s still ready to buy wireless assets from Rogers Communications Inc. if it helps the telecommunications company solve the antitrust problems in a $16 billion acquisition.
Rogers is trying to buy Shaw Communications Inc. in what would be one of Canada’s largest deals ever, but the country’s Competition Bureau is opposed to the deal. Rogers has said it will divest all of Shaw’s wireless assets, which operate under the name Freedom Mobile, to deal with the bureau’s concerns.
Lacavera, the founder and chairman of Globalive Capital Inc., made an offer in March to buy Freedom Mobile for C$3.75 billion ($2.9 billion) that went nowhere. He says it’s still on the table and that he wants to talk to Rogers about it again.
“Our offer stands. It’s a funded, fully-financed offer. We’ve presented Rogers with evidence of the funding partners,” Lacavera said in a phone interview. “I plan to be in communication with Rogers this week.”
A spokesperson for Toronto-based Rogers declined to comment.
Freedom Mobile is a business Lacavera knows well because he started the company, launching service in Canada in 2009 under the brand Wind Mobile. The company was recapitalized in 2014. Shaw struck a deal to buy the company in 2015 and renamed it.
It isn’t clear whether Rogers wants to deal with Lacavera, nor whether an acquisition of Freedom by him would resolve the Competition Bureau’s concerns.
Rogers has held an auction for Freedom Mobile and has other potential buyers for it, including Xplornet Communications Inc., which is backed by New York-based investment firm Stonepeak Partners LP.
Some analysts have said they believe the antitrust agency wants to see whether Rogers can cut a deal with Quebecor Inc., a Montreal-based communications company that’s a major wireless operator in the province of Quebec. It has about 1.6 million wireless subscribers compared with Shaw’s 2.2 million, according to the companies’ latest quarterly disclosures.
The competition bureau’s action “puts Quebecor in an improved negotiating position,” BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Casey said in a note to investors. “That said, we believe Quebecor will have to demonstrate how it can generate a better return from Freedom than Shaw has reported.”
Lacavera said he believes an independent, pure-play wireless company has a better chance of bringing price competition to the market than one that’s owned by a regional cable provider such as Quebecor. Those companies will always be reluctant to cut wireless prices out of fear that larger rivals such as BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. will retaliate by going after their profitable cable television and internet customers, he said.
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