Rogers Communications Inc. has opened a data room and begun talks with potential buyers of the wireless assets of Shaw Communications Inc. as it tries to gain regulatory approval for a US$16 billion takeover, according to a person familiar with the matter. 

Rogers, Canada’s largest wireless and cable firm, may need to sell all or part of Shaw’s wireless business to get regulators to give their blessing for the acquisition of Calgary-based Shaw. The companies have said they want to close the deal by June 30. 

Rogers may try to have a buyer lined up before that date in order to satisfy antitrust regulators, the person said, asking not to be identified because the matter is still private. Rogers has more than 11 million wireless customer accounts; Shaw has more than 2 million, making it the fourth player in the Canadian market. 

The wireless unit is considered the biggest antitrust concern in the deal, as there’s no geographic overlap between Rogers and Shaw’s cable networks. If the transaction were to go ahead without the divestment of Shaw’s Freedom Mobile division, consumers in major cities including Vancouver and Toronto would have only three mobile-phone providers to choose from.  

Shaw rose as high as $38.66 in Toronto on Monday morning, near a record, as traders bet on the likelihood of success for Rogers’s $40.50-per-share bid. Rogers fell 0.2 per cent. 


Three large companies -- Rogers, BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. -- dominate the Canadian wireless industry. The federal government has tried to create more competition by allocating wireless licenses that only new players can buy, with the right to veto any proposed sale or transfer of licenses to the big three. 

In addition, Canada’s Competition Bureau must give its blessing for the deal and can order the companies to make changes or divest assets if needed to preserve competition. 

The Canadian government has already said it won’t allow Rogers to buy all of the wireless spectrum owned by Shaw.

“The wholesale transfer of Shaw’s wireless licenses to Rogers is fundamentally incompatible with our government’s policies for spectrum and mobile service competition, and I will simply not permit it,” Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement on March 3.

Quebecor Inc., a major wireless player in the province of Quebec, isn’t currently part of any negotiations on the Shaw assets, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported Sunday, without saying where it got the information.