Manitoba

MTS sale to Bell panned by most Manitobans, survey says

Most Manitobans dislike the multibillion-dollar out-of-province acquisition of Manitoba Telecom Service by Bell, a new survey says. Sixty-one per cent of Manitobans polled disapprove of sale.

61% of people polled disapprove of sale

Most Manitobas disapprove of MTS sale to Bell, a new survey says. (Joe Bryksa/Winnipeg Free Press/Canadian Press)

Most Manitobans dislike the multibillion-dollar out-of-province acquisition of Manitoba Telecom Service by Bell, a new survey says.

A month ago, Bell Canada Enterprises agreed to buy Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. in a deal valued at $3.9 billion, $3.1 billion for the company plus BCE will assume $800 million worth of MTS debt.

Bell Canada has stated the Manitoba market stands to benefit from the deal, but the new public opinion poll by the Angus Reid Institute showed that people in the province don't agree.

The poll of 450 adult Manitobans revealed that 61 per cent of people disapproved of the sale and nearly half thought it would be bad for the provincial marketplace. Fifty-three per cent thought that the sale would also be bad when it came to prices Manitobans pay.

(Angus Reid Institute )

Only 21 per cent of people polled thought the sale would be good for the province as a whole.

About 50 per cent of Manitoba's wireless subscribers are MTS customers and according to the survey, the one perceived positive from the deal was Bell's promise to spend $1 billion on telecommunications infrastructure over five years.

The deal is expected to take nine to 12 months to get through the regulatory process before it's complete. Agencies that must approve the deal include the Competition Bureau.

In a separate transaction, BCE has agreed to sell about one-third of MTS's post-paid subscriber base and retail outlets to Telus to keep competition at a healthy level.

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