Competition Bureau seeks feedback to assess impact on competition from BCE’s acquisition of MTS

bell mts

Last week, BCE announced plans to acquire Manitoba Telecom Services (MTS) for $3.9 billion. The proposed transaction would also see one-third of its subscribers in the province shifted to wireless competitor Telus. Today, the Competition Bureau is seeking feedback from Canadians about the pending deal.

The transaction is expected to close late 2016 or early 2017 and the Competition Bureau is currently reviewing the proposed acquisition. As part of its due diligence, the Bureau is wanting Canadians to share their views so it can “assess any potential impact on competition.”

Bell currently has over 8,235,963 wireless subscribers. Telus has amassed 8,387,000 wireless subscribers. As for MTS, the regional carrier has 565,000 total subscribers and when the subscribers are divied up, Bell will regain its position as Canada’s second largest wireless carrier:

Bell/MTS: 8,235,963 + 425,000 = 8,660,963 subscribers
Telus: 8,387,000 + 140,000 = 8,527,000 subscribers

The Competition Bureau states it will also seek comment about possible “competitive implications” from “suppliers, competitors, industry associations, customers and industry experts.”

Jim Reiter, the minister responsible for SaskTel, which is a regional carrier in Saskatchewan, recently stated, “This is going to make us essentially an island in Western Canada.”

“The goal of a merger review is to obtain the necessary evidence for careful analysis and consideration before reaching a conclusion as to whether a merger is likely to substantially lessen or prevent competition,” says the Competition Bureau.

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