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Bell-MTS Deal to Close on March 17 After Final Approval

February 15, 2017 8:10 AM | News

George Cope

George Cope, president and CEO of BCE Inc., addresses the company’s annual meeting Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Montreal. BCE Inc. has a friendly deal to buy Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. in a deal they value at $3.9 billion. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)

MTSWINNIPEG — The final stamp of approval is being put on the Bell-MTS acquisition at the federal regulatory level.

The Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada has approved the $3.9 billion deal, set to close on March 17.

“The close of this transaction will represent a watershed moment in Manitoba’s business history, delivering over $1 billion of value to shareholders while securing investment and community commitments which are so important to the future of the province,” said David Leith, chair of the board of directors for MTS.

The new company will be called Bell MTS. Critics of the deal have suggested one less player to compete with the “big three” (TELUS, Rogers and Bell) will mean higher rates for consumers. MTS has long been vocal during the process to say that won’t necessarily be the case.

As part of the deal, Bell has been ordered to sell six of its retail stores, 24,700 subscribers and 40 MHz of spectrum to Xplornet, a company providing high-speed Internet in rural Manitoba and other parts of Canada.

Bell will also sell a significant number of its MTS subscribers and approximately one-third of its MTS dealer locations to TELUS.

Close to one-quarter of MTS’ postpaid wireless customers will be assigned to TELUS, with the company also assuming 13 retail locations for approximately $300 million.

As part of the network-sharing agreement between TELUS and Bell, TELUS will also invest in additional wireless technology and infrastructure in Winnipeg and Brandon to improve its 4G LTE network.