The proposed merger of Canadian cableco/mobile groups Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications – including an associated deal to offload Shaw’s Freedom Mobile subsidiary to Quebecor’s telecoms division Videotron – will enter a Competition Tribunal public hearing scheduled for 7 November 2022, after a mediation session with the Competition Bureau yesterday (27 October) failed to yield a negotiated settlement. The Bureau has argued that the merger will degrade competition and lead to higher prices for consumers.
Rogers, Shaw and Quebecor released a joint statement following the failed mediation: ‘We are disappointed with this outcome and believe that litigation is both unnecessary and harmful to competition … We remain committed to completing this pro-competitive series of transactions and are confident in the strength and merits of our case in front of the Competition Tribunal, including the many benefits of these transactions to Canadians … The combined Videotron-Freedom business will have everything it needs to compete as a stronger fourth carrier for the long term, including critical 5G spectrum. Quebecor’s commitment to lower wireless prices for Canadians across the country is one of the many benefits that the proposed transactions will create. At the same time, the combined Shaw-Rogers wireline business will have a national network positioned to compete against the telcos for the long-term.’
Competition Bureau spokesperson Jayme Albert confirmed that the mediation did not resolve the issues the agency has with the proposed merger, adding that the Bureau disagrees with the content of the joint statement made by Rogers, Shaw and Quebecor, CBC reported.
Both the Rogers-Shaw and Videotron-Freedom deals also require clearance from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED). As reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, earlier this week ISED attached new conditions to the Videotron-Freedom transaction.