Rogers, Shaw deal mediation with Canada's competition bureau fails

Illustration shows Rogers and Shaw Communications logos

By Divya Rajagopal

TORONTO (Reuters) -Rogers Communications Inc, Shaw Communications and Quebecor Inc have failed to mediate their differences with Canada's competition bureau over Rogers' C$20 billion ($14.75 billion) bid for Shaw, the companies said.

Rogers, which launched its bid for Shaw in March 2021, had offered to sell Shaw-owned Freedom Mobile to telecoms and media firm Quebecor to allay the antitrust authority's concerns over reduced competition in the Canadian market.

"The mediation did not yield a negotiated settlement," the companies said in a joint statement on Thursday, adding that they remained committed to completing the transactions.

All three companies said the litigation was "unnecessary and harmful" to competition and did not mention whether the parties would meet again for mediation on Friday or if the dispute would head to the tribunal for a hearing that is set to begin on Nov. 7.

The government's recent intervention had raised hopes that Canada would approve the merger deal, which has been blocked on competition concerns.

"We are aware of the press release issued by Rogers, Shaw and Quebecor and disagree with its contents entirely, except for the fact that a negotiated settlement was not reached," said the competition bureau.

U.S.-listed shares of Shaw fell nearly 6% in trading before the bell on Friday.

Earlier this week, Industry Minister Francois Champagne said Quebecor should hold on the new spectrum for at least 10 years and keep the price of its services at par with what they are in Quebec, which is 20% lower than rest of Canada.

Rogers declined to comment beyond the statement, while Shaw and Quebecor did not immediately respond to requests for comments.

($1 = 1.3560 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Divya Rajagopal and Maria Ponnezhath, Additional reporting by Tiyashi Datta; Editing by Devika Syamnath, Anil D'Silva and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)