Xplornet expands Manitoba presence with NetSet acquisition

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By Ted Liu

Xplornet Communications Inc., a portfolio company of Sandler Capital, McKenna Gale Capital, Werlund Capital, has agreed to acquire the Internet access business of NetSet Communications. Financial terms were not disclosed. The transaction is expected to close on October 31, 2017.

Founded in 2011, Brandon, Manitoba based NetSet is a privately held telecommunications company providing next generation broadband services throughout the Province of Manitoba.

Xplornet will maintain the NetSet Communications tradename and retain virtually all NetSet’s employees and business operations in both Brandon and Winnipeg. NetSet’s founder and former CEO, Charlie Clark, has agreed to serve in an advisory role supporting Xplornet’s business operations in the Province.

The acquisition is the largest in Xplornet’s history and accelerates the company’s continued expansion across Western Canada.

Xplornet launched its own mobile wireless business in Manitoba early this year, as part of consent agreement between BCE/Bell (TSX/NYSE: BCE), The Competition Bureau, and Xplornet related to Bell’s acquisition of Manitoba Telecom Services (TSX: MTS). As part of the deal, Bell sold six retail stores, 24,700 subscribers and 40 MHz of spectrum to Xplornet. Bell also agrees to provide Xplornet with key services including expedited access to Bell’s towers.

Xplornet will complement NetSet’s existing services by further expanding its wireless Internet footprint, as well as adding new products, including satellite Internet, home phone, and mobile wireless service next year.

“Confidence in our economy is growing and this announcement is a great example that Manitoba is the right place for businesses to invest, build and grow,” said Blaine Pedersen, Minister of Growth, Enterprise and Trade. “The Manitoba government welcomes Xplornet’s investment in the province and its commitment to providing wireless broadband service for Manitobans.”

“We are delighted to welcome NetSet customers to Xplornet,” said Allison Lenehan, President and CEO of Xplornet. “We believe our customers share much in common. Like Xplornet, NetSet’s customers live in rural and remote communities and just outside of major centres. We are committed to continuing the proud legacy that NetSet has established in the Province of Manitoba and look forward to connecting Manitobans to more of what matters online.”

“This is great news for NetSet’s customers, employees, and for the Province of Manitoba,” said Tami-Rae Rourke (Clements), former Chief Operating Officer and a co-founder of NetSet. “Xplornet and NetSet share similar roots, and a similar passion for delivering fast, affordable Internet services in rural Canada, and it is our customers, and consumers across the Province who will benefit.”

photo credit: NetSet Communications