Rogers, Shaw Say Merger ‘must Be Allowed To Proceed’

TORONTO (Reuters) – Rogers Communications Inc’s C$20 billion ($14.9 billion) acquisition of rival Shaw Communications Inc has been delayed long enough and must be allowed to proceed despite the competition bureau’s opposition, the companies said in a legal filing on Tuesday.

The companies face off against the Competition Bureau, which is arguing against the deal that would create Canada’s second-largest telecom firm, in a Federal Court of Appeal hearing on Jan. 24.

“This pro-competitive transaction has been delayed long enough and must be allowed to proceed,” the companies said in the court filing.

The companies hope to wrap up the deal by its slated Jan. 31 close.

Canada’s antitrust tribunal approved the transaction on Dec. 30 but the competition bureau appealed the tribunal’s ruling.

In its court document filed on Friday, the competition bureau said the tribunal made four errors in deciding to dismiss the application to block the acquisition, including failing to properly assess the “substantiality” of the substantial prevention or lessening of competition.

But Tuesday’s document from the telecommunications firms argued that the deal has already been subject to a long investigation, six months of close case management by Chief Justice Crampton and Tribunal Chair Justice Little, a carefully sequenced exchange of evidence, two mediations, 16 motions, and 11 days of discovery.

Canada’s Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne also plans to announce a decision on the transaction after the Federal Court of Appeal decision.

Shares of Shaw closed up 0.4% at C$38.28, below Rogers’ offer price of C$40.50 from March 2021. Rogers shares ended up 0.5% at C$65.37.

($1 = 1.3387 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Maiya Keidan, editing by Deepa Babington)