Egypt's Naguib Sawiris Regrets Canadian Investment

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Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has said that he regrets getting involved in the Canadian telecoms market after he provided much of the funding and technical support to start up operator Globalive's Wind Mobile.

"It was a bad idea," he said in an interview with the CBC's Amanda Lang.

Under Canadian laws, telecoms networks have to be majority owned and controlled by native residents. When a report found that Sawiris had an effective indirect majority control of Wind Mobile, lawsuits were filed by the other networks to block its launch.

Eventually, the government overruled the report and allowed the network to launch its services - but the legal fight occupied the company for at least a year, and is potentially still not over.

Canada is the only country in the world, besides China, that hasn't opened up to foreign direct investment for foreign capital, Sawiris said in the interview. "I don't know why Canada wants to be matched with China," he said. "There's only two countries [with] very ridiculous old laws, and nothing is happening."

The country is about to auction off a fresh block of radio spectrum, but Sawiris says Wind won't be bidding on any new spectrum. He cites the problems the company has faced so far as making further investment seem too risky.

Sawiris said that he isn't afraid of competing with the big boys -- but said that Canadian competition rules make that impossible.

On the web: CBC - Wind Mobile

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Tags: naguib sawiris  globalive  wind mobile  Canada 

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