Fight will now move to public hearings before the Competition Tribunal.
Rogers Communications and Canada’s competition watchdog have failed to resolve their differences over the telecom giant’s proposed $26-billion takeover of Shaw Communications following a mediation period and weeks of talks.
The federal Competition Bureau has been trying to block the deal, arguing that the transaction would lead to worse service and higher prices for consumers.
In a joint press release on Thursday evening, Rogers, Shaw and Quebecor Inc. say they are “disappointed” the mediation session did not yield a negotiated settlement.
“The bureau’s unwillingness to meaningfully engage unduly delays lower wireless prices for Canadian consumers,” the release said.
The companies say they remain committed to completing the transaction.
In an email, Competition Bureau spokesperson Jayme Albert confirmed that the mediation did not resolve the issues the agency has with the proposed merger. He said it disagrees with the content of the joint statement made by Rogers, Shaw and Quebecor.
The CRTC conditionally approved Rogers’s acquisition of Shaw’s broadcasting services in March, but the deal still needs to get the green light from both the Competition Bureau and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.
Earlier this week, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne put new conditions on the deal, specifically targeting the sale of Shaw-owned wireless carrier Freedom Mobile to Quebecor’s Videotron, a key component in the proposed transaction.
Champagne, whose approval is required for any spectrum licence transfer, said on Tuesday that Videotron would have to agree to keep Freedom’s wireless licences for at least 10 years.
He also said he would “expect to see” wireless prices in Ontario and Western Canada lowered by about 20 per cent, putting them in line with Videotron’s current Quebec offerings.
Ottawa rejects part of proposed Rogers-Shaw merger deal
The federal government says it’s denying part of Rogers’s bid to merge with Shaw, specifically pertaining to cell phone service. However, that doesn’t mean the deal is dead.
In response, Quebecor said it would accept the industry minister’s stipulations, agreeing to incorporate them in a new version of the transaction.
The fight will now move to public hearings before the Competition Tribunal, which are scheduled to begin on Nov. 7 and could drag on until mid-December.
Rogers is hoping to close the transaction by the end of the year, with a possible further extension to Jan. 31, 2023. The closing date has been delayed several times.
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