Firm legal professionals slam Competitors Bureau’s ‘hyperbolic’ arguments as Rogers-Shaw merger listening to wraps up

Firm legal professionals slam Competitors Bureau’s ‘hyperbolic’ arguments as Rogers-Shaw merger listening to wraps up

Legal professionals for Rogers and Shaw insist the businesses’ merger will result in a renewed struggle for dwelling web clients in Western Canada, whereas a aspect take care of Vidéotron will see the “maverick” wi-fi operator make a daring push exterior its dwelling province, one other shopper win.

It’s a starkly totally different imaginative and prescient of a post-deal world than the one painted a day earlier by the Competitors Bureau as the 2 sides make their last submissions this week after a four-week listening to on the $26-billion transaction.

Legal professionals representing the bureau instructed a panel of the Competitors Tribunal on Tuesday that the long-debated deal for Rogers to amass Shaw, which was first introduced in March 2021, would depart Vidéotron depending on Rogers — one among its largest rivals — for assist competing exterior of Quebec.

Earlier this yr, Rogers struck a aspect deal to promote Freedom Cellular, Shaw’s wi-fi enterprise that operates in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta, to Vidéotron for $2.85 billion.

However the bureau has argued that doesn’t tackle considerations it has a couple of decline in competitors within the wi-fi trade. It maintains that Montreal-based Vidéotron received’t get pleasure from proudly owning its personal cable community within the West and should depend on shopping for wholesale entry to different networks so as to supply web and TV packages, a much less worthwhile enterprise mannequin.

In their very own last arguments Wednesday, counsel for the businesses slammed the bureau’s submissions as “hyperbolic,” “troubling” and “overstated.”

“The (Competitors Bureau’s) efforts to deride Vidéotron’s means to compete efficiently within the wi-fi enterprise in Western Canada are totally with out advantage,” mentioned Kent Thomson, a lawyer for Shaw.

He mentioned Vidéotron has been within the wi-fi trade for greater than a decade and “performed the position of maverick” in Quebec, serving to to drive down cellphone costs in that province to the bottom in Canada.

“Vidéotron has the experience, the assets, the plans, the aptitude to reshape considerably competitors within the wi-fi markets in all of Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia in a means that can profit shoppers in all these provinces,” Thomson mentioned.

John Rook, a lawyer for Vidéotron mentioned the corporate has lengthy needed to amass Freedom Cellular and put forth an in depth marketing strategy for achievement if it closes the deal for the service and its 1.7 million cellphone clients.

On the house web entrance, Thomson mentioned Shaw has been dropping floor for years to its western rival Telus, which he painted as a a lot bigger and richer firm.

He mentioned that since Shaw purchased Wind Cellular in 2016 (it rebranded the service as Freedom after making community upgrades), Telus has vastly outspent Shaw on investments to improve web companies. Shaw, in the meantime, was cash-strapped because it scrambled to spend money on its new wi-fi enterprise, he mentioned.

“Rogers is a considerably bigger and higher resourced firm than Shaw,” Thomson mentioned, including, If this transaction is allowed to proceed, Rogers will convey to bear its monumental expertise, experience, scale and assets to compete aggressively and efficiently towards Telus.”

Rogers and Shaw have additionally argued that Telus and to a lesser extent Bell lobbied the Competitors Bureau to problem the deal as a result of it represents a aggressive menace to their very own enterprise pursuits.

On Tuesday, legal professionals for the Competitors Bureau argued that Shaw shouldn’t be really in dire monetary straits, pointing, amongst different issues, to its investment-grade credit standing.

Competitors specialists say the legislation is probably going on Rogers and Shaw’s aspect.

If the Competitors Tribunal doesn’t block the deal, the businesses nonetheless require approval from the Innovation Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, earlier than they will shut the transaction.

He mentioned in October that if he have been to approve the switch of licences to make use of wi-fi spectrum licences to Vidéotron, he would count on the corporate to make a long-term dedication and supply decrease costs.

Thomson famous Wednesday that Pierre Karl Péladeau, CEO and controlling shareholder of Vidéotron’s proprietor Quebecor, instantly agreed to these situations in a public assertion.

Rook mentioned Vidéotron plans to dwell as much as these phrases but when it doesn’t, he prompt that the minister may revoke the wi-fi licences.

The choose overseeing the case has indicated he wish to have a choice briefly order. The deadline to shut the transaction is Jan. 31 and Rogers will face further expenses to increase its debt financing if the method drags into subsequent yr.

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