The hearing was convened to determine the The fortunes of the merger of Rogers Communications Inc. and Shaw Communications Inc. came to an end on Wednesday, with a much-anticipated competition court decision expected within the month.
Closing arguments ended with representatives from Rogers, Shaw and Vidéotron Ltd. attempting to convince the three-member court of the merits of the proposed merger and what they believed to be flawed arguments Competition Bureau trying to block takeover.
“I urge you to consider the requirement of materiality when considering the matter and particularly when considering the price and non-price effects alleged by the commissioner here,” Crawford Smith, an attorney for Rogers, told the court. “In our respectful submission, the Commissioner falls far short of the substantiveness he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful in relation to his bid.”
Kent Thomson, an attorney for Shaw Communications Inc., said Wednesday that the Competition Bureau’s lawsuit against the company’s proposed merger with Rogers Communications Inc. is based on false assumptions, not reality.
In conclusion, Thomson said that the assumptions and evidence put forward by the regulator about the market share of Shaw’s wireless operations and the prospects for the future profitability of the business do not stand the evidence.
“It behooves this tribunal to step back and do a reality check,” he said.
He focused on the conclusions of Nathan Miller, a Georgetown University professor who authored a report opposing the deal, which the regulator cited in its closing arguments.
Thomson said Miller significantly inflated the market share of Shaw’s wireless division in his report, which helped form the basis of his opposition.
“This is just an economist playing with numbers… without this result, Dr. Miller cannot claim anti-competitive effects in connection with this transaction,” Thomson said.
Thompson also argued that Freedom Mobile “just isn’t growing” in its current state, adding that the airline has been hit by factors including the pandemic and government initiatives.
“Any suggestion that Shaw Mobile is successful…is preposterous,” he said.
Respondents – Roger and Shaw – ride a subsidiary of Quebecor Inc videotrons $2.85 billion buy from Shaw’s Freedom Mobile, a divestment they hope to address concerns about reduced competition as a result of the merger.
On Tuesday, Chief Justice Paul Crampton asked Derek Leschinsky, one of the Bureau’s lawyers, on whether the agency believes Vidéotron cannot compete with other wireless carriers nationally should it buy Freedom Mobile, adding that “the Evidence seems to indicate it was quite a disruptor in Quebec.”
“You don’t seem to give videotron much credit for his business acumen, expertise and experience,” said Crampton, who is presiding over the antitrust case. Leschinsky responded, arguing that the Quebec-based telecom company will do so “Does not replace Shaw’s competitiveness.”
The bureau, which is also represented by attorneys John Tyhurst and Alexander Gay, presented its closing arguments on Tuesday and appealed to the “conscience” of the members of the arbitral tribunal, Urging them to block the transaction will have a negative impact on millions of people, according to the Bureau.
The tribunal began Nov. 7 and heard 45 witnesses over a four-week period, including executives from Canada’s largest telecommunications companies, including Bell and Telus Corp. from BCE Inc., as well as experts from academia and industry.
Analysts await the proposed The $26 billion deal between Rogers and Shaw is set to close in the first half of 2023 should the tribunal decide it can go ahead.
The proposed merger, announced last year, has received approval from Shaw shareholders and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, but still requires a nod from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada after the tribunal gave the green light.
An appeal procedure after the decision of the arbitral tribunal is also possible.
— with Canadian Press files