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Tribunal clears Rogers-Shaw merger; Competition Bureau appeals; Minister awaits legal clarity

3 Jan 2023

Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science & Industry, Francois-Philippe Champagne, says he will wait for legal proceedings to be completed before making his final decision on whether to approve Rogers Communications’ proposed takeover of Shaw Communications, The Globe & Mail reports. The Minister’s comments on 31 December 2022 followed the decision of the Competition Tribunal to approve the deal on 29 December and the subsequent declaration from the Competition Bureau on 30 December that it would appeal the decision. After hearings which ended on 14 December the Tribunal found that the merger was ‘not likely to result in materially higher prices’ or a decline in service or innovation, but the Federal Court of Appeal on 1 January 2023 temporarily suspended the Tribunal’s decision on an ‘emergency basis’ until it can hear and decide on the Bureau’s application for an injunction, while Rogers and Shaw extended their deadline for completing the deal to 31 January.

On 2 January the Tribunal released its full reasons for clearing the CAD26 billion (USD19.2 billion) Rogers-Shaw merger – which has been pending since March 2021 – judging that the related deal to sell Shaw’s Freedom Mobile subsidiary to Quebec-based Videotron is unlikely to result in higher prices for consumers in Shaw’s western heartlands of Alberta and British Columbia. It dismissed the application by Competition Bureau head Matthew Boswell to block the transaction, but the release of the full decision text will allow Boswell to launch his appeal. The 31 January merger deadline cannot be extended without permission from Videotron’s parent Quebecor.

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