Sixty North Unity, Northwestel and Bell Canada Announce Transformative Partnership to Advance Economic Reconciliation

June 12, 2024

  • Northwestel to be fully Indigenous-owned by Sixty North Unity, a consortium of Indigenous communities from the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut
  • Northwestel to become the largest Indigenous-owned telecommunications company globally
  • Strategic transaction will create more opportunities for investment and ownership in infrastructure and communications projects for northern Indigenous communities

Sixty North Unity, a consortium of Indigenous communities from the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, as well as Northwestel and Bell Canada today announced a landmark partnership to advance Indigenous self-determination through the Indigenous ownership of critical telecommunications infrastructure in the North.

Sixty North Unity intends to acquire Northwestel, the leading telecommunications service provider in the North. Following the completion of the transaction, Northwestel will be the largest telecommunications company worldwide with full Indigenous ownership.

“As Indigenous people, we have long believed we are best placed to make the necessary decisions affecting services in our communities. The acquisition of Northwestel will give us the autonomy to make those investments and choices to serve our telecommunications needs into the future.”

Tiffany Eckert-Maret, Sixty North Unity (Yukon)

Building on Bell’s historic investments in the North, this partnership enables Sixty North Unity to continue to bridge the digital divide and continue to address the regional disparities in accessing high quality telecommunications services. With a focus on sustainable development and collaborative partnerships, the acquisition will provide Indigenous communities with greater access to long-term stable cash flows to reinvest in the critical areas of community infrastructure, housing, social services, health, and education programs for those that live and work in the North.

“This acquisition allows us to take the lead in continuing to address the critical gap in telecommunications services in our northern communities. Expanded investments in fibre and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) infrastructure have the ability to transform the North and put us on equal footing with the rest of Canada.”

 David Omilgoitok, Sixty North Unity (Nunavut)
Sixty North Unity is planning significant capital investment to drive digital growth and enhance connectivity across the North to benefit communities and businesses, including:
  • Doubling Internet speeds to 1 Gbps (gigabits per second) for fibre customers; 
  • Expanding high-speed Internet availability to meet the CRTC’s universal service objective of 50/10 Mbps to more than 97% of homes in the Yukon and the Northwest Territories;
  • Offering Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite technology to deliver 50/10 Mbps speeds to eight satellite-served communities in the Northwest Territories and 25 satellite-served communities in Nunavut;
  • Investing $4 million to build the Great Slave Lake Fibre Project, bringing critical resiliency to the Yellowknife capital and South Slave regions of the Northwest Territories and further safeguard against the impacts of wildfires and other natural disasters.

Sixty North Unity intends to maintain Northwestel’s established and experienced management team under the leadership of current President, Curtis Shaw, as well as their dedicated employee base. The Consortium intends to increase Indigenous representation in the workforce, in part through expanded training and mentorship programs. Northwestel’s corporate headquarters will remain in Whitehorse, with the operational headquarters remaining in Yellowknife, and the regional office in Iqaluit.

The transaction reinforces Bell’s commitment to the North by empowering local communities with control over their investment decision-making, while continuing to serve the North as the leading wireless services provider in the region. Bell will maintain a strong and strategic partnership with Northwestel beyond the transaction close through ongoing operational support, and as Northwestel’s largest customer.

The purchase price for the transaction is up to C$1 billion in cash, subject to adjustments. TD Securities is acting as financial advisor to Sixty North Unity on the transaction and RBC Capital Markets is acting as financial advisor to Bell.  Closing of the transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including the completion of confirmatory due diligence, securing financing and receipt of regulatory approvals. Bell intends to use the proceeds from the transaction to pay down debt.


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