Competition Bureau Wants to Fast-Track Hearing on Rogers-Shaw Merger

Canada’s Competition Bureau is seeking an expedited competition tribunal hearing on its case against Rogers’ proposed $26 billion acquisition of Shaw Communications — reports The Globe and Mail.

A spokesperson for the antitrust regulator said on Thursday that it wants to pursue an expedited process. Doing so should cut the wait time for a hearing down to five to six months from about a year.

The Rogers-Shaw deal was greenlit by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in March for the transfer of broadcasting licenses. However, the merger still awaits approval from the Competition Bureau and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada.

Both ISED Canada and the Competition Bureau take issue with Shaw’s wireless unit, Freedom Mobile, being absorbed by Rogers or being sold off and not being able to compete after.

The Competition Bureau has officially petitioned the competition tribunal to prevent the Rogers-Shaw merger. Both sides could still work out a settlement before a hearing even takes place.

Rogers has presented several potential buyers for Freedom Mobile to the Bureau, but none have satisfied the regulator so far. The Competition Bureau said last month that Rogers and Shaw simply pawning off Freedom Mobile wouldn’t be enough to appease it.

According to the Competition Bureau, its priority is not only to ensure that Freedom Mobile is removed from the Rogers-Shaw deal but also that it is sold to a competent buyer who can actually compete with Canada’s Big 3 after taking over.

The Rogers-Shaw merger was originally scheduled to close by July 31. However, the closing date may be extended pending the competition tribunal’s ruling. Rogers and Shaw recently agreed to a preliminary injunction that puts their deal on hold until the tribunal renders a decision.