Rogers, Shaw, Quebecor Extend Merger Deadline Once Again

Rogers, Shaw, and Quebecor today announced an agreement to extend their mutual deadline for the long-embattled $26 billion Rogers-Shaw merger, along with the $2.85 billion sale of Shaw-owned Freedom Mobile to Quebecor’s Vidéotron as part of the broader transaction, to March 31, 2023.

The extension comes as the telecommunications companies still await approval from Industry, Science and Technology Minister François-Philippe Champagne for the transfer of Freedom’s spectrum licences to Vidéotron, which is holding up both deals. This is the parties’ second extension in as many months, with the previous one moving the deadline from January 31 to February 17, 2023.

“All parties remain committed to the pro-competitive transactions, and continue to work with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) to obtain approval of the transfer of spectrum licenses from Shaw to Videotron – in connection with the proposed acquisition of Freedom Mobile by Videotron,” Rogers said.

The controversial Rogers-Shaw deal and the Freedom-Vidéotron sale cleared what was arguably their largest hurdle last month when the Federal Court of Appeal rejected the Competition Bureau’s appeal of a federal tribunal decision to greenlight the transactions.

However, the union of Rogers and Shaw and Vidéotron’s acquisition of Freedom Mobile now hinge on Minister Champagne’s decision.

Minister Champagne said in a statement earlier this week that Ottawa isn’t obligated to abide by the companies’ deadlines. “I am not bound by any date that the parties could decide between themselves. What interests me is the interests of Canadians. I will make my decision in time and place,” he told the press.

The minister is facing pressure from consumer groups and fellow government members like NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to block the merger.

Meanwhile, petitioners like TekSavvy and Freedom’s original founder, Globalive Capital, are urging the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to investigate the transactions once again before they are allowed to proceed.