Canada's Shaw barges into wireless market with $1.16B Wind Mobile deal

The Canadian cable TV provider Shaw Communications said it has agreed to a $1.16 billion deal to acquire Wind Mobile, the country's fourth-largest wireless network operator.

Wind serves 940,000 subscribers and operates an urban-centric network in Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario. It has grown its customer base by 47 percent over the last two years, Shaw said, and is scheduled to deploy LTE services by 2017.

Wind is Canada's largest non-incumbent mobile carrier but far smaller than Rogers Communications, Telus Corp. and BCE, the country's three largest carriers. Like its U.S. counterparts, Shaw is looking to expand beyond fixed-line telecom into mobile and is likely aiming to bundle wireless services with its current TV and Internet offerings.  

"The global telecom landscape is quickly evolving towards 'mobile-first' product offerings as consumers demand ubiquitous connectivity from their service providers," CEO Brad Shaw said in prepared remarks. "This transaction represents a transformational step in the history of Shaw and we are excited about our future growth prospects in mobile."

Verizon confirmed in 2013 that it was interested in Wind, and the U.S. operator reportedly offered a deal in the range of $700 million before talks dissolved.

Wind's strategy of targeting urban users with bargain-basement pricing has produced impressive subscriber growth, but the carrier's network quality and customer service were frequently criticized, according to reports.

The deal is expected to be approved by regulators.

Shaw serves 3.2 million consumers and businesses, and posted nearly $4 billion in revenues for the financial year ended Aug. 31. Shaw's deep pockets and national brand should help increase the market share of Canada's fourth-largest operator.

For more:
See this Shaw press release
Read this Bloomberg piece

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