Now that Ottawa has loosened rules on foreign ownership of the country’s telecom assets, who's going to swoop in to become a fourth major player in the market?
It’s a strong possibility that the answer is New York-based Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), which appears to be emerging ahead of others and could take over one of Canada’s smaller wireless companies struggling against the country’s three top telecoms: Telus Corporation (TSE:T), Rogers Communications Inc. (TSE:RCI.B) and BCE Inc. (TSE:BCE).
“They [Verizon] are definitely taking a hard look right now,” an anonymous source familiar with the discussions told Canada’s Globe and Mail in a report published Monday.
If it happens, this would be the first foreign entrant into Canada’s wireless market. The government has been trying to add competitors to boost price competition and to expedite the implementation of higher-speed service in major Canadian urban markets.
Britain’s Vodafone Group plc (LON:VOD), Norway’s Telenor Group and Dallas-based AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) have all been mentioned as other multinational telecoms that could seek entry into the market. AT&T, in particular, has been seeking global expansion and recently was rumored to be trying to buy Spain’s struggling Telefonica SA (MCE:TEF).
Mobility attempted to sell itself to Telus, but the deal was scuttled by regulators who didn’t want to see one of the major local operators absorbing one of the smaller companies since they hope instead to use them as lures for foreign investment.