The proposed merger of Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications has received a big boost after the Canadian Courts dismissed an appeal from the Competitions Bureau to block the deal.
It means that the long-awaited deal estimated to be worth C$26 billion ($19bn) is a step closer to being finalized.
Although completion of the deal requires approval from the Canadian government and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, it's positive news for the two telcos.
The deal was approved last month by the Competitions Tribunal, which immediately prompted an appeal from the antitrust agency on the grounds that the merger would hurt competition in Canada's telecoms market.
However, the Competitions Bureau failed to convince the courts that a deal would be bad for the telecoms industry. Matthew Boswell, commissioner of competition, said that the Bureau won't pursue a further appeal.
This potential deal has become something of a saga, despite first being announced back in 2021. The deal was due to be completed in 2022 but has faced challenges over competition fears, hence the appeal from the Bureau.
In a bid to push forward with the merger and allay fears over the deal, Rogers outlined its plans to sell Shaw-owned Freedom Mobile to telecoms and media firm Quebecor, through its subsidiary Videotron, for CAD$2.9bn (US$2.3bn).
According to Justice David Stratas, many of the points of law raised by the Bureau were "without merit", he told the court.
"It found, I would say, on the evidence rather decisively that there was no substantial lessening of competition. They also found a number of pro-competitive considerations," he said.
Opposition to Rogers-Shaw deal remains
Unsurprisingly Rogers and Shaw have welcomed the decision, in which both saw their shares go up by three percent.
However, not everyone is content with the court's ruling. Canadian consumer watchdog group Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) slammed the decision to dismiss the Bureau's appeal, noting that it "watched on in horror".
"The public can only be suspicious that the powers that be want this deal to close – even if it means a decade of high wireless and Internet prices for Canadians,” said John Lawford, PIAC executive director and general counsel, on Twitter.
He added: "We also believe that the Court’s ruling means the Canadian Competition Act is utterly broken and needs to be radically rewritten to actually provide tools to block anticompetitive mergers."