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Jan 17, 2019

'You never say no': Shaw on potential Rogers merger

Big telcos have become lazy serving Canadians: Shaw CEO

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The CEO of Shaw Communications Inc. isn’t closing the door on a merger with Rogers Communications Inc. despite saying his company is "in a great spot."

“You never say ‘no,’” Brad Shaw told BNN Bloomberg Thursday in an interview when asked about the possibility of a merger ever happening.

“We’ve made a lot of moves in the last few years to pivot to growth,” he added. “Long-term, sustainable growth. We sold media. We got into wireless. We deployed billions of dollars and we feel we’re in a great spot.”

Shaw has increased its focus on wireless since acquiring Freedom Mobile in 2016 and expanded its LTE coverage starting in Calgary in October with a recently-acquired Band 13 spectrum. Its investments in wireless come years after the company abandoned plans to launch a near-national service after spending $189.5-million on wireless licences in 2008. It later sold those spectrum assets to Rogers for about $300 million in 2013.

Since then, many analysts have suggested Rogers and Shaw should merge into one Canadian telecom giant, although such a move has yet to take place. Both Rogers and Shaw continue to compete in the telecom, cable, and wireless spaces. Shaw sold its media division to Corus Entertainment Inc. in 2016, taking the telecom company largely out of the Canadian media landscape.

CEO Brad Shaw called the buyout offers accepted by 3,300 employees last February a commitment to a more customer-friendly DIY business model. He pointed to the employee exodus as an opportunity to focus on online sales, self-installation and automated customer service.

He also expressed the need for his company to remain “agile” to compete in the Canadian wireless sector.

“The opportunity – when you look at it, at the end of the day - 3,000 people leaving the company is a massive change. We’ve done it over 24 months. We’ve managed it. We’re very comfortable with our plans,” Shaw said.

“We believe, for the future, I think we’ve taken our medicine a bit early. I think we’ve actually stepped out ahead of people.”