Canada’s number two operator BCE (Bell) announced a deal to acquire Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) for C$3.9 billion ($3.1 billion), with a pledge to expand LTE in the province.
The proposed deal, subject to regulatory approval, will see Bell significantly beef up its operations across western Canada, with the company committing to a $1 billion investment over five years to “expand broadband networks and services throughout Manitoba”.
As part of the planned investment, Bell said it will accelerate expansion of MTS’ LTE network, “with average data speeds twice as fast as those now available”, as well as a focus on internet, TV and media services.
In an apparent bid to curb regulatory concerns over the all-Canadian tie-up, and help fund the deal, Bell also said in a separate statement it will sell one third of MTS’ postpaid wireless subscribers and retail locations to rival (and number three player) Telus once the deal completes.
Bell has just under 10 million connections according to GSMA Intelligence, while MTS’ wireless unit had 515,744 at the end of Q1 2016.
“Welcoming MTS to the Bell group of companies opens new opportunities for unprecedented broadband communications investment, innovation and growth for urban and rural Manitoba locations alike,” said George Cope, president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada.
The purchase price for MTS will be approximately C$3.1 billion, and C$0.8 million in debt.
The combined company will be known as Bell MTS, with Winnipeg set to become Bell’s headquarters for Western Canada.
Bell said it expects to close the transaction at the end of 2016 or early 2017.