Rogers CEO Says Shaw Merger Could Still Close This Year

Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri said on Tuesday that the company’s $26 billion acquisition of rival telecom operator Shaw Communications could still close sometime this year — reports the Financial Post.

Staffieri said during a BMO Capital Markets conference that the two merger hopefuls are set for another round of mediation talks with the Competition Bureau next month, which could lead to a settlement.

“We welcome a dialogue to try to close this then, or even before that,” the Rogers CEO said.

Canada’s Competition Bureau is opposing the Rogers-Shaw deal over fears their union will decrease competition in the telecom space and increase prices. Back in May, the Bureau petitioned the federal competition tribunal to block the proposed merger.

Staffieri added that the deal could close this year even if the late October negotiations with the Competition Bureau fail, like the previous ones did, and the matter heads to trial. In that case, Rogers is banking on its proposed “remedy” of selling Shaw’s Freedom Mobile to Quebecor alleviating antitrust concerns at court and wrapping the trial up in “a few weeks.”

The two sides are scheduled to argue their case before the competition tribunal in hearings starting November 7.

“There is a possibility to get a decision from the tribunal this year,” Staffieri said, adding that he is “disappointed” it is taking so long. “We think we’ve addressed all the issues the government has put in front of us.”

Staffieri acknowledged that both the Shaw takeover and the Freedom sale are also yet to be approved by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada. A recent analyst report indicated that the Rogers-Shaw deal could drag into mid-2023.

Rogers and Shaw have precautionarily extended their agreements into 2023, along with the deal’s financing.

During Tuesday’s conference, Staffieri also assured investors that the company has fully recovered from July’s day-long wireline and wireless service outage. The Rogers CEO noted that the company is now “back to levels we were previously at,” but did say that $150 million in customer compensation for the incident will impact its third-quarter bottom line.