Canada approves C$20 billion Rogers-Shaw deal

FILE PHOTO: Ethernet cables are seen in front of Rogers and Shaw Communications logos in this illustration taken, July 8, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustrations//File Photo

(Reuters) -Canada on Friday granted the final approval for Rogers Communications Inc’s C$20 billion ($15 billion) buyout of Shaw Communications Inc, clearing the deal that will create the country’s No. 2 telecoms company.

Francois-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, said at a press meet that he has approved the transfer of wireless licenses held by Shaw’s Freedom Mobile unit to Quebecor Inc under some conditions.

Freedom Mobile’s planned C$2.85 billion sale to Quebecor-owned Videotron has played a vital role in addressing the antitrust concerns over the deal, given the overlap between Rogers and Shaw’s wireless division.

U.S.-listed shares of Shaw were up 2.7% in premarket trading.

The deal had faced opposition from consumer advocates, politicians and rival telecom companies as it unites two major players in a market that already has some of the highest wireless bills in the world.

But Canada’s antitrust agency’s efforts to block the merger were rejected by the Competition Tribunal and a Canadian court, in what was seen as a test case for the regulator’s ability to improve consumer choices in a country where a handful of companies control large swaths of business.

The deal’s closing date has been delayed four times. It is the biggest in the Canadian telecoms industry since BCE’s spinoff of its stake in Nortel Networks in a transaction valued at C$88.7 billion in 2000.

The buyout, struck in March 2021, will allow Ontario-focused Rogers to gain from Shaw’s strong presence in the sparsely populated regions of Western Canada and help it double down on its efforts to roll out 5G throughout the country.

Canada’s top telecom company by market value is BCE Inc.

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