Minister declares opposition to transferring Shaw/Freedom mobile licences to Rogers

4 Mar 2022

Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Francois-Philippe Champagne, yesterday issued a statement regarding Rogers Communications’ proposed takeover of Shaw Communications and its subsidiary Freedom Mobile, in which he indicated that at least some of Freedom’s cellular spectrum licences would need to be divested as a condition of merger approval. Mr Champagne stated that: ‘many Canadians have expressed serious concerns regarding consolidation in the telecommunications sector, specifically regarding the proposed acquisition of Shaw Communications by Rogers Communications. As I have noted before, I share these concerns … I am strongly committed to our policies to promote competition and ensure cell phone affordability for Canadians. The wholesale transfer of Shaw’s wireless licences to Rogers is fundamentally incompatible with our government’s policies for spectrum and mobile service competition, and I will simply not permit it. I will continue to use all the tools at my disposal to fight for more choices for consumers and to make life more affordable for Canadians. This includes the upcoming 5G spectrum auction, where new measures have been proposed to support alternative providers and to encourage competition.’

A joint statement from Rogers and Shaw followed, reading: ‘We continue to work constructively with the government and regulators to close this transaction and deliver the benefits of the merger to all Canadians. We share the government’s view that affordable, high-quality services should be available to every Canadian and by coming together, Rogers and Shaw will make the generational investments in networks and technology that Canada needs to create new jobs, increase competition, and bridge connectivity gaps in rural and remote areas. We continue to expect the transaction to close in the first half of 2022.’

On 15 March 2021 Rogers agreed to buy 100% of Shaw subject to regulatory approvals from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) under the Radiocommunication Act, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) under the Broadcasting Act, and the Competition Bureau under the Competition Act.