Extended interview with BCE CEO Mirko Bibic
BCE Inc. is feeling the squeeze from high inflation, but the telecom giant’s president and CEO says economic headwinds aren’t interfering with plans for hiring or charitable donations.
Mirko Bibic told BNN Bloomberg that the business felt the effects of inflation last year, particularly on the wage side as the company negotiated new collective agreements with employees.
“We are seeing the impacts of inflation,” he said in an interview Thursday. “I'm not seeing it spike more than it did, but it hasn't quite rolled off yet.”
He made the comments Thursday as BCE and BMO Financial Group announced $15 million in donations each to Kids Help Phone as the organization fundraises for expanded youth mental health services. The donations are part of a larger campaign to raise $300 million.
Bibic said inflation and the cost of repairing damage from severe storms, especially in Eastern Canada, added up to about $85 million in unforeseen costs for Bell Canada in 2022.
“Thankfully for our investors, we did keep our margin stable because you have to be really, really diligent about managing those costs,” he said.
He described the economic situation as “recession-like,” and he’s predicting a shallow recession—though he separates the broader economic situation from Bell’s charitable commitments.
And despite mass layoffs across the tech sector amid tough economic conditions, Bibic said BCE hopes to buck that trend and hire more people on the technology side of the business.
“As we continue to transform ourselves from what years past was a legacy telephone company into a technology solutions provider, we do want to hire technology folks,” he said.
Bibic was also asked about the pending takeover of Shaw Communications Inc. by rival Rogers Communications Inc. – which remains with the federal government for a decision after receiving the green light from Canada’s Competition Bureau.
“We’ve competed against the involved parties for decades and we’ve done it successfully year after year after year,” he said. “So if you’re an investor in Bell, I’d say count on our continued competitiveness.”
BCE is the parent company of BNN Bloomberg through its Bell Media division.