Green light for Shaw-Rogers merger: Competition Bureau to appeal
“Disappointed” with the green light given to the merger of Rogers and Shaw by the Competition Tribunal on Thursday evening, the Competition Bureau has filed a notice of appeal with the Federal Court of Appeal for it to decide in this file has profound implications for the Canadian telecommunications market.
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“I am very disappointed that the Court rejects our request to block the merger between Rogers and Shaw. We are carefully evaluating the next steps,” Commissioner Matthew Boswell said in a statement Friday morning.
A spokesman for the Bureau refrained from commenting further on the situation since “the matter is before the courts”.
In a press briefing on Friday, the leader of the Conservative Party, Pierre Poilievre, expressed his « serious concerns » about the court’s decision, which he wishes to « take a closer look at ».
“We need more competition in our telecommunications sector. We don’t have enough competition,” he said. “Canadians need to have more choice.”
In the mobile telephony sector, three major players share 89% of the Canadian market: Bell, Rogers and Telus. Charges for mobile phone services in Canada are among the highest in the world.
The Competition Bureau had filed applications with the Tribunal to block the proposed acquisition of Shaw by Rogers last May. He criticized that this merger could favor the arrival of a « commercial power » between Bell, Telus and Rogers, thus putting a brake on choices for consumers.
The Court ruled, however, that the planned arrangements for the acquisition – including the divestiture of Shaw’s Freedom Mobile subsidiary to Quebecor – « are not likely to prevent or lessen competition substantially » in this sector in Canada.
“The Bureau is still of the opinion that the sale of Freedom’s wireless activities to Videotron would not be sufficient to resolve the anti-competitive effects of the merger,” however, specified the commissioner.
The hearing of the Competition Bureau’s application began last November and final arguments were held on December 13 and 14.
Valued at $26 billion, the transaction will still have to receive the seal of approval from the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, who had already refused the project as proposed last October.