MTS head says it had no signs that Ottawa was going to nix Allstream deal AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email OTTAWA – A surprise decision to reject the foreign purchase of a small Canadian telecom player left observers confused Tuesday, including the chief executive of Manitoba Telecom Services who said no one understands Ottawa’s rules on acquisitions.MTS chief executive Pierre Blouin said he has received no explanation on why the federal government quashed the sale of his firm’s Allstream division to the Egyptian investment group Accelero Capital for $520 million late Monday.In a statement, Industry Minister James Moore cited “national security” concerns, but Blouin said the government never mentioned any such issue during a five-month approval process.Nor has the government given him the ability to restructure the deal to satisfy their requirements, he said, adding that other companies could become discouraged with making future investments in the telecom sector if there is not more clarity.“Not only do foreign investors not know what the rules are, companies in Canada don’t know what the rules are either,” said Blouin.“It would be very good and needed for the telecom industry of Canada to have the rules of the game clarified as we move forward.”Foreign investment experts said the decision places a large question mark over the repeated refrain from Conservative government ministers that Canada is open for business.Walid Hejazi, a business professor with Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, notes that the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development already rates Canada above average in terms of its restrictions.Since the Conservatives came to power in 2006, the Harper government has repeatedly tweaked the Investment Canada Act, making it more restrictive each time, including a near ban on majority acquisitions in the oil patch by state-owned enterprises.The government also rejected two previous takeovers — that of Macdonald, Dettwiler and Associates by an American suitor, again for national security reasons, and of Potash Corp. by Australia’s BHP Billiton.Last fall, it kept international energy companies — China’s CNOOC and Malasiya’s Petronas — dangling for months before finally giving the go-ahead of their acquisitions, while also amending to rules so that such deals would be unlikely in the future.The puzzle with the latest rejection, said Hejazi, is that the government had made efforts to open up the domestic telecom sector to foster competition, all but begging U.S. giant Verizon into the space to challenge Canada’s Big Three — Rogers (TSX:RCI.B), Bell (TSX:BCE) and Telus (TSX:T).As well, the company it ruled out for national security reasons — Accelero Capital — had already been involved in Canada as the majority investor in Wind Mobile.In a television interview, Employment Minister Jason Kenney said national security trumps all other considerations, including job creation.“We have to listen to the advice that we get from intelligence and police security agencies (and) that’s what we’re doing,” he said.Allstream maintains Internet services for sensitive Canadian government installations and facilities, added Kenney, and the government has decided not “to allow a foreign company (for) which there are concerns” to tap into those services.Ian Lee of Carleton University’s Sprott School of Business said he believes Canada’s murky investment rules appear to be emerging with every decision.“If you are a private, for-profit company from an OECD country, you are going to get the green light. However, if you are from a country that is not an ally, such as Russia, China or the Middle East, or you are a state-owned enterprise, you are either going to get a red light or a yellow light,” he said.Lee added the Harper government also puts great store on security, saying it might have been concerned that the Allstream network could have facilitated spying activities in Canada.Last week, CIBC executive Jim Prentice, a former foreign industry minister himself, warned that the government was chasing away needed foreign investment with its new regulations against state-owned enterprises buying into the oil patch.He cited figures that showed investment inflows into the oil and gas sector had fallen off a cliff so far this year, to $2 billion from $27 billion during the same period last year. As well, mergers and acquisitions dropped to $8 billion from $66 billion, and Chinese investment had all but dried up.Shares in Manitoba Telecom (TSX:MBT) fell $2.74, or 8.47 per cent, to close at $29.62 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. by Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press Posted Oct 8, 2013 6:04 pm MDT read more

DAYTON, Ohio – Iona came into its matchup against Ohio State apparently calm and confident that they could hang with-and maybe even beat-the Big Ten tournament champions in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Such self-assurance wobbled, wavered and eventually cracked against the No. 2-seeded Buckeyes. Playing about an hour away from home, OSU coach Thad Matta’s crew ultimately routed the No. 15-seeded Gaels, 95-70, Friday at the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton. With the win, OSU will take on No. 10 seed Iowa State Sunday at 12:15 p.m. As part of a season-high total of 95 points, junior forward Deshaun Thomas’ 24 points led the Buckeyes in its first game of a larger charge toward a return to the Final Four and sophomore forward Sam Thompson quite literally dunked his way to 20 points. Winners of their last nine games in a row, OSU used a 22-2 run midway through the first half to subdue and conquer Iona, which seized the game’s lead, 6-5, at the 16:42 mark. Never again would they lead the contest against a Buckeyes squad shooting 48 percent from the floor. Following the game, OSU junior guard Aaron Craft emphasized the importance of starting the game fast. “We can’t have bad starts,” Craft said. “Not that we’re playing perfect, but we know we have to come out with energy and we knew they were going to come out with a lot of energy and a lot of fire.” After bloating its lead to 19 points, OSU found itself in a game of ebbs and flows against the Gaels which, behind sophomore forward David Laury and senior guard Lamont “Momo” Jones, would not limp away quietly. “I thought that, when you play a team like Iona, they’re just never out of the basketball game and just from the standpoint we got off to a pretty good start,” Matta said after the game. “Give them credit, they got back on us.” Despite a shaky 36-percent shooting outing in the first half, Iona found ways to hang around and furiously chip away at an arduous deficit. Thanks to Laury’s 12 points and Jones’ seven, the Gaels headed into the game’s intermission trailing, 43-33. “We lost our focus, our concentration a little bit,” Matta said. The Buckeyes would get it back, though. Part of it, said junior forward Lenzelle Smith Jr., was playing it what felt like a virtual home game in Dayton. “Right now, it’s all emotional right now. It’s survive and advance,” Smith, who had 12 points, said. “You play off the emotion, and the crowd definitely gave us that boost today.” While the Gaels’ effort was one that seemed to extend the game, Iona could not muster the ability to climb its way back into the contest. While OSU outscored them, 52-37, in the second half, Laury finished the day with 14 points and Jones, who said he wouldn’t be surprised if his team came out with the win earlier in the week, bowed out the tournament with nine points. Senior Evan Ravenel said it made for a certain sentiment associated with shutting down Jones and the Gaels. “It’s a good feeling when guys are kind of vocal like that and want to say things,” Ravenel, who had 11 points, said. “It’s a good feeling to be able to be like ‘Yeah we backed it up, we backed up what we’re about.’” And in a West Region that saw No. 3 seed New Mexico, No. 4 seed Kansas State, No. 5 seed Wisconsin, No. 6 seed Arizona all lose in the tournament’s first weekend, the path to the Final Four seems paved if OSU continues to play at a high level. But Craft said that’s a dangerous mindset to get into. “I hope we don’t feel comfortable … we got a good win today. But we have to find a way to get better tomorrow,” he said. “Whether of it’s practice (or ) film study of whoever we got to play. We have got to continue to be humble, we’ve got to continue to be hungry.” read more