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Competition Bureau doubles down on objections to Rogers deal for Shaw

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A woman holds two cellphones in this photo illustration, Monday March 29, 2021 in Chelsea, Quebec.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

TORONTO — The Competition Bureau has expanded on its opposition to Rogers Communications Inc.'s proposed $26-billion takeover of Shaw Communications in new submissions to the Competition Tribunal ahead of weeks of hearings scheduled to being this fall.

In legal filings released after markets closed, the agency challenged Rogers' claims about efficiencies and said acquiring its closest competitor is anticompetitive that will harm consumers though higher prices, lower quality services and lost innovation.

It also argues that the proposed sales of Shaw's Freedom Mobile service is "not an effective remedy" because it won't replace growing competition Shaw Mobile would deliver in Alberta and British Columbia and would make Freedom Mobile "a subsequently weaker competitor" than it would have been except for the deal.

The bureau said the efficiencies Rogers claims the deal will create are insufficient to outweigh and offset the anticompetitive effects and are "speculative, unproven and unlikely to be achieved ... or are grossly exaggerated." It says stated efficiencies are based on "unrealistic assumptions and flawed methodologies."

The Competition Bureau also said a subsequent increase in prices will result in the transfer of wealth from low- and moderate-income groups to shareholders including ultrarich members of family ownership groups of the companies.

Five weeks of hearings are scheduled to begin the week of Nov. 7, followed by written and oral arguments.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 17, 2022.

Companies in this story: (TSX:RCI.B, TSX:SJR.B, TSX:T, TSX:BCE)

The Canadian Press