Industry Minister Reiterates ‘Promoting Competition’, Separate Rogers-Shaw Decision Coming

The federal Competition Tribunal on Thursday dismissed the Competition Bureau’s application to block Rogers’ proposed $26 billion takeover of Shaw Communications after a weekslong trial, paving the way for the merger to proceed.

Canada’s Commissioner of Competition was seeking a full block of the Rogers-Shaw deal, arguing that it would lessen competition and raise prices.

With the Bureau’s case dismissed, the transaction is now in its final stretch. Rogers and Shaw only require approval from the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, for the transfer of Shaw-owned Freedom Mobile’s spectrum licences to Quebecor subsidiary Vidéotron in a side-sale that’s part of the broader merger.

Minister Champagne on Saturday issued a statement on the Tribunal’s ruling, promising to review it and render a “separate decision” in due time.

“I am aware of the Competition Tribunal’s decision not to block the merger between Shaw and Rogers and I will review that decision in detail and will render my separate decision only after there is clarity on the ongoing legal process,” said Canada’s Industry Minister.

OpenMedia, a consumer advocacy group that has long opposed the Rogers-Shaw deal, dubbed Champagne the “Minister of Collapse” back in October for his “soft” approach toward the merger.

“Since I have already rejected the transfer of licensed spectrum from Shaw to Rogers, what remains before me is the separate request to transfer spectrum licences from Shaw to Quebecor,” Minister Champagne continued.

“Promoting competition and affordability in the telecom sector is one of my top priorities. That position has not changed.”

Banking on Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada’s approval of their union, Rogers and Shaw have extended the deadlines for their merger and the Freedom-Vidéotron sale to January 31, 2023.

The Competition Bureau may not be entirely out of the game just yet, though. On Friday afternoon, Rogers and Shaw said in a joint statement that they have been notified of the Competition Commissioner’s plans to appeal the Tribunal’s decision. The Bureau could also seek a stay to prevent the telecom giants from closing the transaction until its appeal can be heard.