In 2011 Wind Mobile chair and co-founder Anthony Lacavera took over as CEO of the startup carrier, with the number of subscribers around 300,000 and not growing as fast as he’d like.
Today, with new money about to be injected and over 750,000 subscribers, he relinquished control to chief executive officer Pietro Cordova. Lacavera will remain chairman.
In a statement the company said he will remain a shareholder and “have an active role at the board level, including working with the company on business planning and strategy.”
The change follows word last month that subject to regulatory approval Lacavera’s investment company, Globalive Capital, would buy all of the direct and indirect debt and equity of its partner, Amsterdam-based VimpelCom Ltd. VimpelCom, whose largest shareholder is Russian magnate Mikhail Fridman, was always a reluctant investor in Wind, one of the smallest of its portfolio of telecom companies around the world.
It gained its minority share in Wind by buying some of the assets in March, 2011 of Orascom Telecom Holdings, Wind Mobile’s financial backer, to become a company with over 173 million subscribers in 19 countries.
But Wind’s growth was stunted by having to face entrenched Canadian incumbents Bell Mobility, Rogers Communications and Telus Corp. While Cordova came to Wind in 2012 from VimpleCom owned Wind Telecomunicazioni of Italy, to be COO, VimpleCom was having trouble figuring out what the Canadian division’s future would be.
At one point it offered to take complete control, perhaps to make a sale easier. However, the Harper government refused, reportedly concerned about foreign ownership. That led VimpelCom to refuse to fund Wind Mobile’s expansion, including money for bidding in this year’s 700 MHz auction.
However, the Harper government let it be known it wouldn’t approve a VimpelCom buyout. That led Lacavera to hunt for new investors: They include Toronto-based hedge fund West Face Capital, California-based private equity firm Tennenbaum Capital Partners, LG Capital Investors, Novus Wireless Communications of Vancouver and Serruya Private Equity.
Their shareholdings and Wind’s strategy for the future haven’t been announced yet.