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Canadian watchdog challenges Rogers-Shaw merger green light

Canada’s Competition Bureau is to challenge a Competition Tribunal ruling that dismissed its case against cable operator Rogers’ planned takeover of fellow cable operator Shaw.

The government agency said that it had obtained a Federal Court temporary ruling suspending the earlier court judgement pending an application for an injunction. The bureau has said it intends to launch a full appeal against the decision.

Rogers and Shaw had earlier issued a joint statement on being advised that the competition watchdog had decided to appeal the  tribunal decision.

“We remain committed to these pro-competitive transactions that will bring more choice, more affordability and more connectivity to Canadians. The Tribunal’s decision was the right one, and the Tribunal was clear in its summary that the transactions we have proposed are not likely to substantially lessen competition in Alberta and British Columbia. Instead, as the Tribunal found, the transactions will likely result in an intensifying of competition. We are deeply disappointed that the Commissioner continues to attempt to deny Canada and Canadians the advantages that will come from these proposed transactions,” the pair said.

The two companies said that the combination had already been approved by the shareholders of Shaw and the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta, and the transfer of Shaw’s broadcasting licences to Rogers has been approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Before the merger can go ahead, innovation, science and industry minister François-Philippe Champagne must also approve spectrum license transfers from Shaw to Videotron Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quebecor, pursuant to the acquisition of Freedom by Quebecor.

The sale of Shaw’s Freedom Mobile unit to Quebecor was designed to address concerns raised by the competition regulator and the minister about the Rogers-Shaw merger.

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