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‘Journeyman’ Jay Forbes to depart as MTS CEO once BCE deal closes

The MTS building in downtown Winnipeg is seen on Tuesday Nov. 29, 2005.

Joe Bryksa/CP

Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. chief executive officer Jay Forbes is set to leave the company once he finally sees his $3.1-billion deal to sell to BCE Inc. to a successful finish.

MTS said Friday that Mr. Forbes will depart on March 17, which is when the transaction is set to officially close.

Mr. Forbes has been at the helm of MTS for just over two years and oversaw a transformation of its business – slashing costs, cutting jobs and revamping its customer-service processes and brand image. He also succeeded in selling the company's long-troubled fibre-optic enterprise services division Allstream to a U.S. buyer. Shortly after that sale closed in 2016, he struck the deal with BCE, a transaction many in the industry predicted but few expected to see so soon.

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Mr. Forbes, a Nova Scotia native who began his career in accounting, has done stints in senior leadership at Atlantic Canada telecom Aliant Inc. (which is also now owned by BCE), electronics distributor Ingram Micro Inc. and Toronto-based electronic land-registration company Teranet Inc.

In an interview with The Globe and Mail last year he described himself as a "journeyman," explaining: "The organization is in need of a certain leader with certain attributes. You go and do that job. The job might be two years, it might be 20 years."

"With the arrival of the new Bell MTS combination, the time will be right for me to move on and pursue new opportunities," Mr. Forbes said in a statement Friday.

BCE and MTS received the remaining federal approvals they needed for the friendly takeover last month following a lengthy review process spurred by concerns over the loss of competition in the Manitoba wireless market.

The Competition Bureau and federal department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development gave the deal a pass after BCE agreed to sell wireless airwaves, customers and retail locations to rural Internet provider Xplornet Communications Inc.

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About the Author
Telecom Reporter

Christine Dobby covers the Canadian telecom industry for The Globe and Mail. Before joining the Globe in May 2014 she reported for the Financial Post for three years, most recently writing about telecom and media. She has also reported for the Toronto Star and New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. More

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