Canadian Judge Dismisses Regulator’s Bid To Block Rogers-Shaw Merger

By Maiya Keidan

TORONTO (Reuters) -A Canadian court on Tuesday dismissed the competition bureau’s effort to block Rogers Communications Inc’s C$20 billion ($14.9 billion) bid to buy Shaw Communications Inc, in a boost to the companies’ efforts to close a deal struck nearly two years ago.

“It would be pointless to send this case back to the competition tribunal for re-decision,” Justice David Stratas told the court, calling many of the points of law the bureau raised “without merit”.

The proceeding in a Federal Court of Appeal in Ottawa was the antitrust bureau’s latest attempt to kill the deal, saying the transaction will hurt competition in the telecoms industry in Canada, where consumers pay some of the highest mobile phone bills in the world.

Rogers and Shaw shares jumped on the decision, and both were trading up about 3% in late afternoon trade, while the benchmark Canadian share index was lower.

Judges spent the morning grilling competition bureau counsel on their case against the transaction and delivered their verdict in the afternoon without hearing from Rogers and Shaw.

The bureau previously failed to convince the competition tribunal, a quasi-court that handles merger disputes, that the deal is harmful for Canadian consumers. It was approved on Dec. 30.

“According to the tribunal, this was not a particularly close case,” the judge told the court on Tuesday. “It found, I would say, on the evidence rather decisively that there was no substantial lessening of competition.

“They also found a number of pro-competitive considerations.”

(Reporting by Maiya Keidan; Editing by Denny Thomas, Mark Porter and Deepa Babington)