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Shaw Shells Out $1.6B for Wind Mobile

In a big move that expands its wireless and mobile ambitions, Canadian operator Shaw Communications has agreed to acquire Mid-Bowline Group and its subsidiary, Wind Mobile Corp, for $1.6 billion.

Wind, billed as Canada’s “largest non-incumbent wireless services provider,” has about 940,000 subs in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, supported by 50MHz of spectrum in each of these regions.

Shaw said the deal is key to the service provider as it positions itself strategically to the ongoing convergence of wireline and wireless connectivity. The acquisition will also complement Shaw’s growing WiFi network, which currently spans more than 75,000 hotspots.

“The global telecom landscape is quickly evolving towards 'mobile-first' product offerings as consumers demand ubiquitous connectivity from their service providers,” Shaw CEO Brad Shaw said in a statement. “The acquisition of WIND provides Shaw with a unique platform in the wireless sector which will allow us to offer a converged network solution to our customers that leverages our full portfolio of best-in-class telecom services, including fibre, cable, WiFi, and now wireless.”

He added that the acquisition marks a “transformational step” in Shaw’s history and its future mobile growth prospects.

“This growth will be accelerated by combining Shaw's existing customer relationships, trusted brand and wireline and WiFi infrastructure with WIND's impressive asset base, including its existing spectrum position and mobile network,” the CEO added. “The time has come to offer even more mobility to our customers.”

Shaw noted that Wind has grown its sub base by 47% over the past two years, and that the mobile operator is poised to pull down $485 million in revenue and $65 million in EBITDA in 2015. Wind is also slated to upgrade its network to 4G LTE by 2017.

Shaw said Wind’s management team, including CEO Alek Krstajic, will continue to run the wireless unit.

Shaw said it has as executed a fully-committed bridge financing facility with the Toronto Dominion Bank and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. CIBC World Markets Inc. and TD Securities Inc. served as financial advisors to Shaw in the deal, and Dentons Canada LLP provided legal advice.

Shareholders of Mid-Bowline Group Corp. have approved the deal, which is expected to close during Q3 of fiscal 2016.