Rogers, Shaw and Quebecor chiefs defended the controversial merger plan before federal lawmakers the day after a landmark federal appeals court decision gave them the green light to the $26 billion deal.
• Also read: Court of Appeals clears Shaw-Rogers merger
• Also read: Rogers and Shaw push back the merger date
The latter on Tuesday rejected an appeal by the competition office, which had first rejected its challenge to the merger by the competition court at the end of December.
Rogers CEO Tony Staffieri on Wednesday tried to persuade industry committee members that the merger would benefit consumers and spark numerous technology investments in excess of $10 billion.
During his testimony before Parliament, Quebecor Chairman Pierre Karl Péladeau attacked Telus, a dominant player in the western Canadian market, which strongly opposes the transaction.
Photo agency QMI, Marc Desrosiers
Pierre Karl Peladeau
CEO of Quebecor
Mr Péladeau accused Telus of employing “Machiavellian” and “toxic” tactics, multiplying “recourse to the courts,” “cunning disinformation campaigns and intense lobbying” to try to block the project.
Mr Staffieri claimed Quebecor was the player most likely to “quickly” roll out a 5G network in the west, encroaching on Telus’ flower beds.
Quebecor came into the picture last June after Rogers and Shaw were forced to sell the cell phone business to another company so the merger could go ahead. Quebecor would acquire Freedom Mobile, a Shaw subsidiary, for $2.85 billion.
A Carleton University expert who testified before business leaders condemned the merger because it would lead to greater concentration in an already highly anti-competitive sector of the economy, he said.
“I’d like to think that our priority is competition, but actions speak louder than words,” he lamented.
With the path now almost entirely clear following the Court of Appeal’s decision, all that remains is Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s blessing for Videotron, a Quebecor subsidiary, to acquire Freedom Mobile at a cost of $2.85 billion.
However, given the January 31 deadline to close the transaction, this must be done sooner rather than later.
Mr. Champagne had made two conditions before giving the green light: that Videotron (owned by Quebecor) retain the Freedom Mobile licenses for a decade and that prices for consumers be reduced.
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