Oct 25 (Reuters) – Canada on Tuesday imposed conditions on Rogers Communications (RCIb.TO) proposed remedy to address competition authority concerns over its proposed £20bn purchase of rival Shaw Communications (SJRb.TO). .CAD ($14.7 billion) by Rogers.
Rogers has offered to sell Shaw’s Freedom Mobile unit to Quebecor Inc.’s (QBRb.TO) Videotron to address antitrust regulators’ concerns about reduced competition in the Canadian market following the Shaw deal.
Canadian Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne told a media conference on Tuesday that Videotron must hold the Freedom Mobile unit for at least 10 years.
“Second, I expect pricing for wireless services in Ontario and Western Canada comparable to what Videotron is currently offering in Quebec, which is on average 20% lower than the rest of Canada today,” he added.
Champagne also said the government officially rejected the wholesale transfer of the radio spectrum license from Shaw to Rogers as part of the original deal.
Champagne’s announcement at a press conference comes days before the companies enter arbitration in the Competition Court over the acquisition. The Canada Competition Bureau has said that the sale of Freedom Mobile to Videotron is not enough to address its market concentration concerns. But champagne has the last word on the deal.
“Given the ongoing litigation, we will decline to comment at this time,” Rogers said.
Quebecor welcomed the terms set by Champagne and announced that they would be included in the new version of the transaction between Rogers-Shaw, Quebecor and Freedom Mobile.
“We are pleased to see that Minister Champagne recognizes and supports the intensely competitive environment Videotron has created in Quebec’s wireless market over the past several years,” said Pierre Karl Peladeau, Quebecor’s chief executive officer, in a statement.
Rogers first announced it would buy Shaw in 2021, but Canada’s competition regulator blocked the deal, saying it would reduce competition in a market where cellphone bills are among the highest in the world.
“Canadians deserve world-class networks and access to wireless services at affordable and competitive prices. I’m committed to achieving those goals, period,” added Champagne.
($1 = 1.3619 Canadian Dollars)
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Divya Rajagopal; Additional reporting by Maria Ponnezhath; Edited by Cynthia Osterman, Stephen Coates and Sherry Jacob-Phillips
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