Sources say Wind Mobile founder to buy out majority with help from West Face

TORONTO – Sources say Wind Mobile’s founder has a tentative deal to buy out the company’s majority shareholder, a Dutch-Russian company called VimpelCom Ltd.

A source close to the deal has confirmed that Wind’s chairman and CEO, Tony Lacavera, has arranged to buy out VimpelCom’s majority stake with financing from Toronto private equity firm West Face Capital and others.

Lacavera owns about 35 per cent of Wind Mobile, which has a wireless network serving about 750,000 customers — primarily in heavily populated areas of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

The Globe and Mail reports that the transaction is expected to be worth close to $300 million, with about half of that involving debt that the new investment consortium would assume.

Any agreement reached by the companies would require regulatory approvals, including from Canada’s Competition Bureau.

A VimpelCom subsidiary helped fund Wind Mobile’s entry into Canada’s wireless industry about five years ago but the federal government blocked the European telecom company from acquiring full control last year.

VimpelCom later refused to fund Wind’s participation in a wireless spectrum auction that took place last January.