BCE's Manitoba Telecom Takeover Approved With Several Conditions
BCE Inc. cleared the final hurdles for its $3.1 billion (US$2.4 billion) purchase of Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. after Canadian regulators approved the deal provided BCE sells parts of the new business to internet provider Xplornet Communications Inc.
The ruling pushes BCE to go further than it already has to allay fears the deal will lead to higher prices for Manitoba’s consumers. The Montreal-based company had already agreed to sell a third of Manitoba Telecom’s customers to Telus Corp. and invest heavily in wireless and internet networks in the province. The new agreement announced Wednesday requires BCE to sell Xplornet some wireless spectrum, six retail stores and 24,700 wireless subscribers. Manitoba Telecom has about 490,000 subscribers.
Canada’s biggest telecommunications company has been waiting since May, when it announced the deal, to get approval from various agencies and government departments. The Competition Bureau found the deal would decrease competition in the province, prompting it to pull Xplornet into the agreement.
Canada’s Minister for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains also approved the deal, his office said in a statement. The country’s telecommunications regulator signed off on the deal in December.
BCE, known commonly by its brand name Bell, agreed to buy Manitoba Telecom in a bid to further expand its presence in the country’s west, where rivals Vancouver-based Telus and Shaw Communications Inc. have traditionally dominated. The country’s wireless scene has seen ongoing consolidation over the last five years, with Rogers Communications Inc. buying Mobilicity and Shaw buying Wind Mobile, despite support for the smaller carriers from the federal government.