After two extended deadlines, countless legal hurdles and a spate of criticism, the historic C$26 billion takeover of Shaw by Rogers has been cleared.
Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne gave the final verdict today in a press conference in Ottawa, and announced a total of 21 legally binding conditions with Rogers and Vidéotron to ensure more competition in the telecommunications sector.
“The establishment of an effective national fourth player who can compete and drive down prices has been the goal of successive governments for decades. Today’s announcement allows for the establishment of that fourth national player for the first time in Canada’s history,” he said.
Some of the conditions include:
– The establishment of a Rogers’ headquarters and creation of 3000 new jobs in Western Canada, to be maintained for a minimum of 10 years.
– Rogers to invest C$5.5 billion to expand 5G coverage and additional network services
– Rogers to invest C$1 billion to connect rural, remote and Indigenous communities
– Ensure Freedom Mobile’s plans will be at least 20 per cent more affordable than the equivalent plans offered by incumbents in the British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario markets
– Freedom to invest more than C$150 million to upgrade its infrastructure
Rogers and Vidéotron will pay financial damages of C$1 billion and $200 million, respectively, should either of them breach any of the commitments.
Champagne also announced a moratorium on large scale spectrum transfers and directed ISED (Innovation, Science and Economic Development) to launch a comprehensive review of Canada’s spectrum transfer framework.
Rogers, Shaw and Quebecor announced in a joint statement that they have agreed to close the “pro-competitive transactions expeditiously” and to extend the closing of the merger to April 7, 2023.
The merger was initially announced in March 2021, but faced a number of roadblocks, notably from the Competition Bureau, over concerns of price increases of wireless services and lessened competition.
To allay these concerns, Shaw announced in August 2022 the C$2.85 billion sale of its wireless carrier company, Freedom Mobile, to Québecor’s subsidiary Vidéotron.
Unenthused, the competition watchdog took the merging parties to the Competition Tribunal and the Federal Court of Appeal but failed to block the merger, leaving the final verdict in Champagne’s hands.
As he contemplated the largest merger in Canadian telecommunications, the closing date for the transaction was deferred twice, costing Rogers millions of dollars to ensure financing remained in place even if the deadline was not met.
Updated 10AM-3/31/2023 – with Rogers, Shaw, Quebecor’s joint statement