Yesterday (24 January 2023) Canada’s Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal by the head of the Competition Bureau against the Competition Tribunal’s approval of the proposed merger of Roger Communications and Shaw Communications and the associated proposed takeover of Shaw’s subsidiary Freedom Mobile by Videotron.
Commissioner of Competition Matthew Boswell had challenged the 31 December 2022 Tribunal decision which had concluded that selling Shaw’s Freedom Mobile division to Quebec-based Videotron was unlikely to result in higher prices for consumers in Shaw’s western heartlands of Alberta and British Columbia. Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry Francois-Philippe Champagne must now approve spectrum licence transfers from Shaw to Videotron before the combination of Rogers and Shaw can proceed.
Rogers, Shaw and Videotron’s parent Quebecor gave a joint statement welcoming the ‘unequivocal and unanimous’ Court of Appeal decision, noting that they ‘continue to work’ with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) to secure the final approval needed to close the transactions ‘and create a stronger fourth wireless carrier in Canada and a more formidable wireline competitor’. The 31 January 2023 merger deadline cannot be extended without permission from Quebecor.
In addition to Competition Tribunal approval, the Rogers-Shaw merger has already been approved by the shareholders of Shaw and the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, and the transfer of Shaw’s broadcasting licences to Rogers has been approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).