Canada’s Competition Bureau will not pursue any additional actions to thwart the proposed merger of telecommunications firms Rogers and Shaw after the Federal Court of Appeal dismissed the Bureau’s appeal of the Competition Tribunal’s decision that found the merger would not alter competition in Canada’s wireless sector.
The last remaining hurdle is the approval of Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne. The Minister originally said he would not allow the transaction to be approved as originally structured, but later said he would only rule on the merger when the legal processes were completed. The Minister tweeted that he would review the court’s rulings and would “render a decision in due course.”
Rogers agreed to sell Shaw’s wireless Freedom Mobile division to Quebec-based Videotron after the purchase encountered significant resistance from the Competition Bureau, consumer groups and consumers.
Commissioner of Competition Matthew Boswell expressed disappointment with the appeals court ruling and re-iterated that they continued to disagree with the Tribunal’s findings. “That being said, we accept the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal and we will not be pursuing a further appeal in this matter,” Boswell noted in a release.
The Bureau filed an attempt to block the merger in May 2022, arguing that the transaction would harm consumers in Alberta and British Columbia through higher prices, lower service quality and lost innovation.
The Tribunal announced on Dec. 29 that it dismissed the Bureau’s application, and accepted the arguments that with Shaw’s Freedom wireless brand divested to Videotron, there would be similar levels of competition in Alberta and British Columbia. It found that Videotron is likely to roll out 5G services in Alberta and British Columbia as it has in Quebec, and that its services would be competitively priced to the bundled offerings of Shaw and Freedom in the absence of the merger.
The Bureau appealed that ruling to the Court of Appeals.
Rogers Communication first announced the $26-billion purchase of Shaw Communications in the spring of 2021.