Canada’s telecom regulator has approved the transfer of MTS’s broadcasting rights to Bell parent company BCE, effectively approving the deal from its end and bringing it one step closer to completion after approval by MTS shareholders and a Manitoba provincial court in June 2016. The $3.9 billion deal now has to be approved by Canada’s Competition Bureau and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development before completion.
The Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that it approved Bell’s takeover of MTS’ terrestrial broadcasting distribution undertaking (BDU), referring to its television services, which is the only approval needed from the CRTC for the deal.
“The portion of the transaction involving telecommunications services is subject to the Telecommunications Act and does not require the Commission’s prior approval,” states the CRTC’s written decision.
“The Commission exclusively reviewed the change in ownership of the licensed BDU. The authorization in this decision is not sufficient, in and of itself, for BCE to go ahead with the broader transaction, which requires authorizations from other entities.”
The CRTC notes that the transaction does not raise concerns with respect to its policies and regulations or trigger the payment of tangible benefits. It also states that its approval is partially based on Bell’s commitment to build out telecom infrastructure in Manitoba, which the company has affirmed with multiple project announcements in the last several months.
“Bell committed to invest in infrastructure in Manitoba, including in markets that are currently unserved, which will benefit the broadcasting system,” the Commission says in its decision.
Following the approval announcement, BCE and Bell’s President and CEO George Cope released the following press statement: “We continue to make progress toward uniting Bell and MTS as we work with federal regulators to complete the remaining transaction approvals. Bell and MTS look forward to implementing our billion-dollar capital investment program to bring innovative broadband fibre and wireless services to Manitobans everywhere.”
The company says it expects to close the deal, which was announced in May 2016, in early 2017.