BCE bid on Shaw but wouldn’t amend proposal to address regulatory issues: circular

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TORONTO — BCE Inc. made a bid to buy Shaw Communications Inc. earlier this year, but lost to Rogers Communications Inc. when it was unwilling to amend its proposal to address regulatory issues.

The revelation was buried in a management information circular published Friday, which described a series of offers made to Shaw from “Party A.”

BCE spokesman Nathan Gibson confirmed to The Canadian Press that his company was Party A and says it ultimately determined the opportunity to buy Shaw wasn’t in the best interests of its stakeholders.

The circular says BCE, which owns Bell Canada, initially offered Shaw $37 per share, exceeding Rogers’s first bid of $35 per share.

Rogers then raised its offer by $5.50 a share, prompting BCE to amend its own bid to 39.25 per share before ultimately matching Rogers’s.

The circular says Shaw approached BCE about amending its proposal to address unspecified regulatory issues, but BCE refused and eventually withdrew from the process.

When asked what regulatory issues needed to be addressed, Shaw vice-president of external affairs Chethan Lakshman said in an email to The Canadian Press that the company had no comment.

In March, Rogers and Shaw announced that they reached a deal valued at $26 billion including debt and involving a $2.5 billion, five-year investment from Rogers in 5G networks across Western Canada.

If the deal secures regulatory approval, the merged companies will become the second-biggest telecom in the country.

BCE is Canada’s largest telecommunications company, with its main phone networks in central Canada and a national wireless service that competes across the country.

Shaw and BCE’s offerings overlap in Manitoba, where Shaw has internet and cable services and Bell acquired Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.

There’s little overlap between the Shaw and Rogers cable and internet businesses, which are in Western and Eastern Canada respectively.

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