Oral arguments from Rogers, Shaw and Vidéotron conclude tribunal hearing

Rogers and Shaw hope to close the takeover before the end of the year, but have the option to extend it to January 31st

Rogers and Shaw logos on an iPhone

Lawyers representing the Competition Bureau, Rogers, Shaw, and Vidéotron, made their final oral arguments on Rogers’ $26 billion takeover of Shaw this week.

Coming a week and a half after the parties concluded their respective evidentiary portions in the Competition Tribunal’s hearing, the merger’s faith is now in the hands of the tribunal’s three-member panel, led by Justice Paul Crampton.

The Competition Bureau wants the merger blocked, citing higher wireless bills and poorer service if the takeover is approved. Lawyers representing the bureau said Shaw’s divestiture of Freedom Mobile to Vidéotron wouldn’t create a strong fourth competitor, particularly in Western Canada. Freedom Mobile serves Ontario, Alberta, and B.C.

On Wednesday, John Rook, a legal representative for Vidéotron, said the company negotiated terms that will lead to Freedom Mobile succeeding under Vidéotron. He also revealed the company made two offers to acquire Freedom Mobile. The first was in April 2021, and the second was in April 2022. However, the final $2.85 billion price tag to purchase Freedom is lower than what Vidéotron originally offered, Rook said.

Kent Thomson, a lawyer for Shaw, argued the merger would create an aggressive competitor for Telus, Shaw’s main competitor in the west.

“If this transaction is allowed to proceed, Rogers will bring to bear its enormous experience, expertise, scale and resources to compete aggressively and successfully against Telus in the wireline industry throughout Western Canada,” Thomson said Wednesday.

Crampton previously stated he hopes the panel can come to a decision before Christmas. Rogers and Shaw are also hoping to close the deal before the year ends but have the option to extend their deadline to January 31st. The merger still needs approval from Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne.