Provincially owned telecom firm sold at loss of almost $61 million

Source: Richard J. Brennan, Toronto Star, September 29, 2015

The Liberal government is under fire for selling off a provincially owned telecommunications company at a $61 million loss. … Ontera, which provides local and long distance telephone, data and Internet service throughout northeastern Ontario, was sold to Bell Aliant for $6.3 million — less than the $6.5 million the province paid consultants, lawyers and others advising the government on the sale. Newly released documents from a Public Accounts report states “a loss on disposal of shares of Ontera” of almost $61 million and that the “the government provided a one-time contribution of $52,092,000 to support the sale” of the Crown corporation. … Fedeli said given how the government “bungled” the sale of a smaller asset like Ontera, then “how are they are going to be trusted to sell Hydro One, a much bigger company,” referring to the Liberal government’s plan to sell off 60 per cent of the transmission utility. In struggling to explain the deal, Gravelle said the decision was made to cut the province’s losses. Details of the money-losing deal were outlined in public accounts documents released Monday. Ontera was the communications division of Ontario Northland Transportation Commission (ONTC), which, among other things, used to run a heavily subsidized passenger train service until the Liberals shut it down. It currently provides bus service, rail freight and refurbishment and land development.