Rogers’ bid for Shaw gets boost after court rejects antitrust effort to block deal

TORONTO, Jan 24 (Reuters) – A Canadian court on Tuesday rejected the competition agency’s bid to block Rogers Communications Inc’s ( RCIb.TO ) C$20 billion ($14.9 billion) bid to buy Shaw Communications Inc (SJRb.TO), to promote. to the companies’ efforts to close a deal nearly two years ago.

“There is no point in sending this case back to the competition tribunal for a retrial,” Judge David Stratas told the court, citing a number of legal issues raised by the antitrust agency. “there is no benefit”.

The action in the Federal Court of Appeal in Ottawa is the latest attempt by the antitrust agency to strike down the deal, which it says will harm competition in the telecommunications industry in Canada, where consumers pay some of the highest cell phone bills in the world.

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Shares of Rogers and Shaw jumped on the decision, and both were trading up 3% in late afternoon trading, while the Canadian benchmark index was lower. (.GSPTSE).

Announced nearly two years ago, the move has become a test of the competition agency’s ability to increase consumer choice in Canada, where some companies control large parts of the business. .

Rogers offered to sell Shaw’s Wireless to Quebecor’s ( QBRb.TO ) Videotron for C$2.85 billion to address antitrust concerns, but the competition agency said Rogers-Shaw had no competitors. merged into Quebecor.

Shaw and Rogers plan to complete the work by Jan. 31, although the deadline could be extended by agreement with Quebecor.

Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, who had the final say on the transaction, said in a statement later on Tuesday that he would review the court’s decision on the agreement and competition and price in the telecommunications sector it remains a priority.

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National Bank of Canada analysts said in an announcement last week that the agency could also appeal to the Supreme Court and has 60 days to do so.

But they said such actions must first be reviewed by a committee of senior Justice Department members who are trying to avoid sending what they see as trivial cases to a higher court.

The judges spent the morning grilling the competition bureau’s counsel on their case for the transfer and handed down their decision in the afternoon without hearing from Rogers and Shaw.

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The administration previously failed to accuse the competition tribunal, a quasi-court that handles merger disputes, of working badly for Canadian consumers. Approved on December 30.

“According to the tribunal, this is not a very close case,” the judge told the court on Tuesday. “It was evident, I would say, based on the evidence that there is no shortage of competition.

“They also found a lot of ideas about the competition.”

Competition Canada, Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Reporting by Maiya Keidan in Toronto, additional reporting by Mehta Chavi and Ismail Shakil; Edited by Denny Thomas, Mark Porter and Deepa Babington

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters’ Guardian Principles.

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