Anthony Lacavera says that after surpassing 600,000 subscribers at Wind Mobile, he feels the time is right to move on and leave management of the company to Cairo-based Orascom Telecom Holding S.A.E.
Lacavera will stay on as Wind’s CEO and chairman until clearance of an agreement with Orascom. Lacavera founded the company in 2008 with financial backing from the Egyptian firm. Now Lacavera is transferring his shares in Wind Mobile, owned under AAL Corp., to Orascom for an undisclosed amount. Orascom will take full control of Globalive Wireless Management Corp. if the deal passes regulatory approval.
Although he recently criticized Industry Canada’s upcoming wireless spectrum auction, saying it was not favourable for new entrants, Lacavera says that has nothing to do with his decision to resign from Wind.
“It’s on solid footing right now and it’s the right time to hand the keys over to a focused management,” he says. “Wind doesn’t need entrepreneurial leadership anymore.
Wind’s outgoing CEO also says he plans to launch Globalive Capital, an investment firm that will target Canada’s technology, media, and telecommunications industry. There’s a lack of early-stage growth capital in Canada for technology firms, yet lots of money being put into natural resources and mining companies, he says. That should change.
“We lose so many of our bright entrepreneurs to Silicon Valley,” he says. “Canada needs Globalive Capital just as much as it needed Globalive Wireless when I started it in 2008.”
Lacavera is tight-lipped about details on Globalive Capital at this point, but says he’ll be inviting institutional and entrepreneurial investors to join him. A separate announcement in the coming months will be made about plans for the venture capital firm, highlighting investments that Lacavera has already made over the last couple of years.
The deal made today wouldn’t have been possible in Canada before July 2012. The federal government recently relaxed foreign ownership rules under the Telecommunications Act. It allows for non-incumbent carriers to be controlled by foreign entities. Wind Mobile was at the centre of a long-fought debate over how much foreign control was allowed, with a corporate structure that saw Orascom own 65.1 percent economic interest but just a 32 per cent voting interest.
Still, Lacavera isn’t going to assume the deal made will pass.
“I’m done speculating on regulatory approvals given my experience,” he says.
Lacavera, who retains an economic interest in Wind Mobile, says that new carriers to Canada’s telecom scene since the 2008 wireless spectrum auction must consolidate to compete against the likes of Bell Canada, Telus, and Rogers Communications. Wind is currently the fourth-largest wireless carrier behind those three firms.
“I personally think the company is well positioned to lead the market in consolidation,” he says. “There’s room for one new national carrier.”
But Orascom has control and will ultimately decide what to do, he says. Lacavera’s ready to hand over the keys.
Wind Mobile’s new leadership will be announced in several weeks, but expect it to be an Orascom executive based in Canada, he says.