Telus announced on Tuesday that it’s pulling out of the bidding war for BCE, Canada’s biggest telecommunications company, after citing “inadequacies” in the bidding process. The remaining bidders are backed by U.S. private-equity firms, which analysts say might be a problem since foreign companies can’t own more than 46.67 percent of telecom providers. And even though almost half of Canadians are against a Telus-BCE merge, 65 percent still prefer it to foreign takeover of the company.
This issue of U.S. firms buying out Canadian companies is a touchy one lately. The impending sale of Alliance Atlantis’s Motion Picture Distribution arm (MPD) to Manhattan-based investment bank Goldman Sachs has Canadian filmmakers angry. Actor Paul Gross argues that the sale is particularly offensive because MPD is a “cultural enterprise.” Gross and others worry that MPD’s distinctive Canadian-ness will be lost in a takeover by Goldman Sachs; specifically, there is the concern that MPD’s library of Canadian programming might be endangered when the distributor is no longer subject to CRTC Canadian content requirements. The filmmakers’ indignation is compounded by another recent example in this trend: the sale of Toronto-based ThinkFilm to Los Angeles distributor David Bergstein last October.
BCE may not have the same kind of cultural significance, but maybe Canadians are so strongly opposed to U.S. ownership of it because it’s part of a pattern that’s starting to seem all too familiar. And something about it just doesn’t feel right.
Photo from Telus.com.