The Competition Tribunal approved the marriage between Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications in December. (Photo: 123RF)
Ottawa. The Competition Bureau will have no other chance to stop Rogers Communications from acquiring Shaw Communications, the Federal Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.
Judge David Stratas ruled that the Competition Bureau’s arguments were insufficient to overturn a December decision by the Competition Tribunal that approved a $26 billion marriage between two telecommunications groups.
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“It is not enough to pluck the leaves and branches and leave the tree standing, rather, the whole tree must fall,” he said in his decision on the bench, even before the companies concerned had given their answer.
The Competition Court has made it clear that the deal is unlikely to materially interfere with or weaken competition, and its decision was supported by ample evidence, Judge Stratas said.
“Even if the Competition Tribunal were wrong on the narrow points of law that the Commissioner is now raising in this court, we are not convinced that the outcome would have been different. Therefore, there is no need to refer this case to the Competition Tribunal.”
The Bureau’s arguments focused on what they considered four key legal flaws regarding the role of the proposed sale of the wireless carrier Freedom Mobile Show to Videotron in the court’s decision.
Some of the issues raised by the Competition Bureau have been contested as a combination of fact and law, while the Court of Appeal can only hear questions of law, Judge Stratas said.
“It seems the Commissioner is suggesting that we reassess the evidence, which we cannot do.”
The deal, which Rogers hopes to close by Jan. 31, still needs the approval of federal industry minister Francois-Philippe Champagne.
Champagne said in a statement that it is reviewing the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal and will decide on the deal in due course.
“Promoting competition and affordability in the telecommunications industry has always been and remains my top priority,” he said.
The Competition Tribunal approved the deal on December 30 after more than four weeks of hearings. Rogers and Shaw first announced their deal in March 2021.