Wind blows whistle on rival’s ‘foreign’ shareholder addresses; Telus tells Wind to zip it

22 Jun 2012

Canadian cellco Globalive Wireless (Wind Mobile) has filed a complaint to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) calling into question whether the concentration of ‘foreign’ funding at its larger rival, Telus, breaks the country’s overseas ownership restrictions on telecoms companies. Reuters reports that Orascom/Vimpelcom subsidiary Wind, which itself survived a high-profile foreign funding inquisition from the same regulator, has submitted a filing suggesting that almost half of Telus’ voting shareholders are ‘not Canadian’ as they have registered addresses outside Canada. Canadian law currently bars foreigners from owning more than one third of the voting shares in telcos – and while this restriction is set to be abolished for smaller operators such as Wind pending the enacting of new legislation, the limit will remain in place for the largest groups including Telus.

In its filing, Globalive cited independent investor relations firm Broadbridge Financial Solutions, which reported that 48% of Telus’ voting shares were held by investors with postal (zip) codes outside of Canada. However, Telus immediately refuted the report, which it said did not reflect actual residency status of its investors but merely showed zip codes, in some cases not representing their permanent address. ‘If you have an investor who is temporarily in the US for work or who invests through a US institution they may show up as having a US address in this report,’ Telus spokesman Shawn Hall said in an e-mailed statement. Telus added that it has comprehensive controls in place to ensure compliance with the law.

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