Pierre Blouin will step down as CEO of Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) later this year after nine years as the head of a telecom company that tried and failed to make a national impact.
Appointed to the post in 2005, Blouin wanted to bring MTS onto the national stage in cellular three years later by forming a partnership to bid on spectrum in the 2008 AWS auction with the Canadian Pension Plan and Blackstone Capital Partners.
However the trio couldn’t reach agreement on a number of issues. In hindsight, given the struggles that Wind Mobile, Mobilicity and Public Mobile have had in gaining subscribers against Bell, Rogers and Telus, that may not have been a bad outcome.
Blouin also hoped to do more with its Allstream fibre optic business network, a unit MTS bought from AT&T for $1.7 billion in cash and shares in 2004.
However in the view of financial analyst Dvai Ghose, head of research at Canaccord Genuity, Allstream “has destroyed value for MTS shareholders.”
Last year Blouin struck a deal to sell Allstream to Acclero, which was nixed by Ottawa. Blouin’s departure suggests a near term sale of Allstream is unlikely, Ghose believes.
In a note to investors Ghose notes that while MTS is the incumbent wireless carrier in its home province with the biggest market share, it faced aggressive pricing from Bell, Rogers and Telus in part because MTS couldn’t retaliate in other parts of the country. Similarly, cableco Shaw Communications has been pressuring in the wireline market because MTS couldn’t shoot back in B.C. and Alberta.
On the other hand, Ghose noted that MTS has managed to maintain its market share in both wired and wireless and has the best consumer broadband growth of an major Canadian carrier. “We will be sad to see Blouin leave,” Ghose concluded
Under Blouin, MTS has expanded its fibre-to-the-home network in the province, expanded Allstream’s network to connect to over 3,000 buildings, bought Epic Information Solutions and built a new data centre in Winnipeg. It was also chosen by the federal government to provide a national business IP and switched Ethernet services to Shared Services Canada as part of Ottawa’s outsourcing program.
“I am very proud of what we have accomplished over the past decade,” Blouin said in a statement, “and felt that this was the right time to transition to new leadership. I am grateful for the support and dedication of our Board, management team and MTS Allstream’s outstanding employees, and I leave with full confidence in the company’s future success. I remain fully engaged in the business and will work to ensure a seamless leadership transition.”