Rogers Opposes Competition Bureau Request for More Time to Investigate Freedom Sale

The Competition Bureau said in a Friday statement that the proposed sale of Freedom Mobile to Quebecor does not alleviate all of the regulator’s concerns regarding Rogers’s planned $26 billion CAD takeover of Shaw Communications — reports Reuters.

Canada’s competition watchdog said it does not have enough information to approve the Freedom sale at this time. The bureau added that it will need more time to investigate the proposed sale of Shaw’s wireless unit to Quebecor before it can give it the green light.

The request was rejected by Rogers, noting in response it was “critical” that the scheduled hearing stays on track.

The Competition Bureau’s court filing stated it was “seeking only a limited extension”, to fast-track its application in the competition tribunal.

The Bureau also wants to question Videotron about the Freedom Mobile sale, which Rogers also opposed.

Rogers and Shaw agreed to sell Freedom to Quebecor for $2.85 billion last month. The merger hopefuls see it as a remedy to antitrust concerns the Competition Bureau and the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada have raised against their union.

Last month, the Competition Bureau petitioned the federal Competition Tribunal to block the Rogers-Shaw deal. The regulator argued the Rogers-Shaw deal would decrease competition and increase prices in Canada’s wireless space. Rogers and Shaw failed to resolve their dispute with the bureau in mediation talks earlier this month.

Quebecor, meanwhile, hopes to jumpstart its longstanding plans to expand nationally by acquiring Freedom. The company is even trying to jump to Rogers and Shaw’s aid in their regulatory battle against the Competition Bureau.

There were plenty of potential suitors for Freedom Mobile, including Anthony Lacavera, the outfit’s original founder. Lacavera offered $900 million more than Quebecor for the carrier, and he has urged Ottawa to scrap the Freedom-Quebecor deal as it won’t help wireless competition.

Talks between all parties are slated to continue in August, prior to the formal tribunal in November.