Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications have agreed to pause their proposed merger while Canada’s Competition Tribunal weighs a challenge from the Competition Commissioner, who wants to stop the deal. (In a press release, Rogers also floated the idea of a negotiated settlement.) The companies also have agreed to an expedited review process for the challenge, although the Tribunal hasn’t indicated how long that process will take.
The two Canadian cable MSOs agreed to merge in March of last year through a CAN$26 billion (approximately $21 billion) acquisition of Shaw by Rogers. In light of concerns that the deal would significantly dent the Canada’s competitive landscape, particularly for mobile services, Rogers agreed that it would sell of Shaw’s mobile network assets.
That move wasn’t sufficient to prevent Commissioner of Competition Matthew Boswell from filing a bid earlier this month to stop the merger on anti-competitive grounds. At the time, Rogers and Shaw announced that they would delay closure of the merger from June to July 31, 2022.
Boswell’s Competition Bureau points out that Rogers, Bell, and Telus already serve approximately 87% of Canadian mobile subscribers and assert that removing Shaw from the field would harm consumer choice.
"Vigorous competition is essential for Canadians to access affordable, high quality wireless services. I'm pleased this case can now move quickly towards a hearing before the tribunal. Our objective remains to protect Canadians by preserving competition and choice in Canada's wireless market," stated Commissioner Boswell via a press release.
“As previously announced, Rogers and Shaw are engaged in a process to fully divest Shaw’s wireless business as part of their proposed merger. Today’s agreement with the Commissioner allows the parties to focus on addressing the Commissioner’s concerns with the transaction in order to reach a settlement,” stated Rogers via an unsigned press release.
The operator concluded, “Rogers and Shaw strongly believe the transaction is in the best interests of Canadian consumers, businesses, and the Canadian economy, and that a settlement is the best path forward in ensuring that the benefits of the transaction are fully and expeditiously realized.”