The Competition Bureau has filed an application to block Rogers Communications Inc.’s purchase of Shaw Communications Inc. because it claims the transaction would lead to worse service and higher prices, though experts say the move isn’t necessarily the end of the road.
The federal regulator is asking the Competition Tribunal to prevent the $26-billion deal from proceeding and seeks an injunction to stop the two companies from closing the deal until the bureau’s application can be heard.
The merger will lead to “higher prices, poorer service quality and fewer choices,” the bureau said, particularly in the wireless sector, where Rogers, Bell and Telus Corp. currently serve about 87 per cent of Canadian subscribers.
The bureau’s investigation into the March 2021 deal determined the proposed acquisition will eliminate “an established, independent and low-priced” competitor in Shaw-owned Freedom Mobile. It would also prevent existing competition in wireless services in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia and suppress further competition in areas like 5G.
“Eliminating Shaw would remove a strong, independent competitor in Canada’s wireless market — one that has driven down prices, made data more accessible, and offered innovative services to its customers,” said Matthew Boswell, the commissioner of competition, in a statement.
He and the bureau argue that Shaw has “consistently challenged” the Big Three telecommunications companies.
WATCH | Rogers-Shaw deal raises concerns over competition, pricing:
Shaw now provides wireless services to over two million customers in Ontario, Alberta and B.C., its wireless subscriber base has recently doubled and data prices have decreased, where they had previously increased year-over-year, the bureau said.
However, its opposition might not kill the transaction.
Rogers and Shaw, which revealed the bureau’s intentions over the weekend, have already announced they plan to press ahead with the deal and fight the commissioner’s efforts to block it.
Not the end of the road Rogers, Shaw
Neither company not immediately respond to a request for comment, but have sought to fend off some of the bureau’s criticisms by attempting to sell Freedom, which makes up the bulk of Shaw’s wireless services. New Brunswick-based rural internet provider Xplornet Communications Inc. and Montreal’s Quebecor Inc. are reportedly interested in Freedom.
The Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, which has yet to approve the deal, could also block the transaction from moving forward, though the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission signed off on it earlier this year.
Analysts also doubt the bureau’s opposition will be much of a roadblock.
“Despite this apparent twist in this process, we continue to believe the probability of a deal ultimately getting approval remains high,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Drew McReynolds said, in a note to investors Sunday.
He thinks there will be a number of things Rogers can do to address the bureau’s concerns and push the deal forward.
“We do not believe the commissioner’s application is an indication that the Rogers-Shaw transaction cannot be remedied, and continue to believe that the Competition Bureau is focused on the nature of the remedy package rather than outright prescribing who that remedy partner should be,” he wrote.
The bureau also has a “very bad track record in terms of winning cases,” said Vass Bednar, executive director of the Master of Public Policy in Digital Society program at McMaster University.
She pointed to the bureau’s move last year to try to block Secure Energy Services Inc.’s proposed acquisition of Tervita Corporation to protect competition in the oil and gas waste services sector in Western Canada.
The competition tribunal found “irreparable harm to the competitive process and to purchasers of the services … has begun to occur,” but let the merger move forward anyway because Boswell could only meet two of the three conditions needed to stop or even pause a deal.
Boswell had “egg on his face,” said Bednar, who believes that could happen again because she sees the case as being an “uphill battle” with the “odds stacked against him.”
However, she said even opposing the deal shows the bureau has been “doing its homework,” which may have shocked Rogers and Shaw.
“I think the Rogers, Shaw lawyers underestimated the bureau’s teeth and capacity. …They thought this is going to go through and let’s high five,” Bednar said.
“I think think they were presumptuous and seem genuinely surprised it will be opposed.”
Rogers and Shaw have 45 days to file a response with the Competition Tribunal. Once those responses are received, the bureau must respond within 14 days.
Calling the passionate, the curious, and the creative: Staples Canada launches National Hiring Campaign
More than 1,000 associates to be hired across Canada in seasonal, part-time and full-time positions to help make Back to School simply amazing
Richmond Hill, ON, May 17, 2022 – Staples Canada, The Working and Learning Company, has launched a national hiring campaign to fill more than 1,000 positions in stores, supply chain, contact centres, sales teams, print and tech hubs, as well as corporate roles. All open roles are posted at careers.staples.ca with in-person and virtual interviews available at the different locations.
“The back to school season is the most exciting time of year for Staples associates – it’s a time where we get to connect with our customers to enable their success, and inspire them for months to come,” said Wanda Walkden, Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer, Staples Canada. “We’re invested in bringing in the best and brightest talent to inspire our customers and our communities, while also helping our associates further their own development and growth.”
Staples currently employs more than 11,000 associates across Canada within a variety of roles and locations. The company has presence in every province and the Northwest and Yukon territories. All locations are looking to fill a variety of roles.
Joining Staples comes with a number of benefits, which include:
· Associate support: Staples offers extensive wellness benefits that are designed to support the physical, mental and financial well-being of associates. These include an employee and family assistance program, retirement savings plans with an employer match, performance bonuses, associate discounts, and more.
· Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Staples is committed to creating an inclusive and diverse work environment where each associate can bring their whole authentic self to work. Staples associates can join Business Resources Groups; groups that are by associates for associates and focus on various DE&I initiatives through partnerships, awareness and education.
· Learning and development opportunities: At Staples, learning and development is a priority for all associates, with many opportunities for cross-department training, and leadership development programs in place to aid professional growth.
- Educational support: Each year, scholarships are awarded through the Staples Canada Annual Academic Scholarship Program to associates or children of associates attending post-secondary education. The company also offers tuition reimbursement for full-time associates to further their education.
- Ability to make an impact: Each year, Staples associates partner with organizations like MAP, and take on local charitable giving initiatives including the School Supply Drive during back to school, as a continued commitment to communities across Canada.
All 300+ stores and Supply Chain, Contact Centres, Sales Teams, Print and Tech Hubs and, Corporate locations across Canada are participating in the national hiring campaign; visit careers.staples.ca to learn more and find the perfect job near you.
Staples Canada is The Working and Learning Company. With a focus on community, inspiration and services, the privately-owned company is committed to being a dynamic, inspiring partner to customers who visit its 300+ locations and staples.ca. The company has two brands that support business customers, Staples Preferred for small businesses and Staples Professional for medium to large-sized enterprises, as well as six co-working facilities in Toronto, Kelowna, Oakville and Ottawa under the banner Staples Studio. Staples Canada is a proud partner of MAP through its Even the Odds campaign, which aims to tackle inequities in communities across Canada and helps make a future that’s fair for everyone. Visit staples.ca for more information or get social with @StaplesCanada on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
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Kathleen Stelmach, Staples Canada, 905-737-1147 Ext. 578, email@example.com
Noah Gomberg, Golin, 647-475-4721, NGomberg@golin.com
Gas prices set to drop in the GTA – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Drivers are set to get some relief at the pumps as gas prices are set to drop 13 cents per litre by Friday.
Average gas prices hit $209.9 per litre on Wednesday in southern Ontario, marking a new record high and a whopping 12-cent rise since last Friday.
However, President of Canadians for Affordable Energy Dan McTeague says prices are set to drop three cents to 206.9 per litre as of midnight and then 10 another 10 cents to 196.9 per litre by Friday.
McTeague said that the drop in prices is being driven by the unease of global markets over a potential recession.
Prices at the pumps have been elevated since late February due to fuel supply shortages amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the international sanctions that have been imposed as a result of the war.
Natural Resources Canada said the average price for regular gasoline in Canada hit $2.06 per litre on Monday, with the most expensive price in Vancouver at $2.34 a litre.
On Wednesday, Statistics Canada reported that the annual inflation rate rose 6.8 per cent year-over year in April. The national agency added that Canadian drivers paid 36.3 per cent more for gas in April compared to a year ago.
-With files from The Canadian Press
Stock markets sell off as inflation fears settle in – CBC News
Stock markets were a sea of red on Wednesday as financial results from major retailers suggested they’re having a hard time dealing with stubbornly high inflation.
The S&P 500 was down by more than four per cent, its worst one-day showing since June 2020 as investors reacted to troubling signs that consumers are slowing their spending in the face of high prices.
Shares in Target shed more than 25 per cent of their value after the retailer said its profit was cut in half because of higher costs and supply chain problems. It was the worst day for Target’s shares since Black Monday in 1987, and it came a day after rival Walmart painted a similar picture the day before.
Walmart’s shares fell by more than 11 per cent on Tuesday and another seven per cent on Wednesday, after the retailer warned of lower profits to come due to higher costs for transportation and wages, as well as supply chain issues. Tuesday’s sell-off was also the biggest one-day plunge in Walmart shares since 1987.
That gloom coming from two cost-conscious retailers sparked investor fears that if they are having problems navigating high inflation, many others must be, too.
“The strength of the consumer will be tested as both Walmart and Target signal rising pricing pressures are not easing,” analyst Edward Moya with foreign exchange firm Oanda said.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed almost 1,200 points or more than three per cent and the technology focused Nasdaq lost more than 500 points or more than four per cent.
Since the start of the year, the Dow is down by 14 per cent, the S&P by 18 per cent and the Nasdaq by 28 per cent, data from Bloomberg shows.
“Stocks are crumbling after Wall Street worries about economic growth after hearing a chorus of concerns of higher prices that won’t be easing anytime soon,” Moya said.
Statistics Canada reported on Wednesday that the country’s inflation rate ticked upwards again last month, to a new 31-year high of 6.8 per cent.
While the Toronto Stock Exchange fared better than its U.S. counterparts, it wasn’t immune to the sell-off, losing 389 points, or about two per cent, to close as just over 20,100 points late in the trading day. The benchmark Canadian index has lost about seven per cent of its value since the start of the year, and has been mostly lower of late since topping out at over 22,000 points in April.
“It’s a really rough day out there for stock markets,” Colin Cieszynski, chief market strategist at SIA Wealth Management, said in an interview with CBC News.
“The retailers in particular are starting to get squeezed between rising costs and softening demand,” he said. “We’ve just been seeing a stampede for the exits across stock markets today.”
Tech shares hit hard
Technology shares, which soared earlier in the pandemic as the world went increasingly digital and online due to COVID-19 lockdowns, continue to get hammered.
Apple shares lost six per cent to trade at their lowest level since October. Amazon shares lost seven per cent and the shares are now trading where they were in April 2020. Netflix lost another seven per cent and now trade at their lowest level since 2018.
Canadian tech companies also sold off, with shares in e-commerce firm Shopify, payment processing company Lightspeed and BlackBerry all off by about three per cent.
Cieszynski said the sell-off in technology shares makes sense, because the sector “tends to benefit … when investors are feeling confident and when investors are willing to take on risk.”
“At a time when investors are are retrenching, turning away from risk and going more defensive, [technology] tends to underperform,” he said.
Bitcoin dips below $30,000
Bitcoin was no exception as the world’s largest cryptocurrency continued its plunge, losing another five per cent to trade below $30,000 US for the first time since 2021.
“The speculative cryptocurrency excesses of 2021 may mark a similar fate for risk assets, as when the internet bubble burst in 2000,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mike McGlone said.
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