Shaw and Corus May Abandon Merger Hopes Following CRTC’s Block of Bell-Astral Deal

Shaw Communications and Corus Entertainment this week downplayed speculation that the two companies would merge. The rumour of the two joining forces more intimately surfaced earlier this year, but after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission blocked Bell’s $3 billion acquisition of Astral Media, it’s become a bad time to attempt such a move. 

“We realize there’s some value and synergies with Corus,” Brad Shaw, chief executive officer of Shaw, said during an earnings call Thursday. “[But] Shaw’s pretty focused on what we need to do. Overall we’re really pleased with how our media division has performed.”

A merger isn’t a huge rush for Shaw anyway. The Shaw family already controls Toronto-based Corus, which operates a variety of television channels and radio stations.

If Shaw were to attempt a merger, the odds of defeat would certainly be lower than they were for Bell. If Bell and Astral combined, Bell’s media unit would hold a staggering 42.7% of the market. A Shaw Media and Corus combination would account for 30%—still dangerously high, but nowhere near as lethal.

Bell has until January 15 to win an appeal against the CRTC’s decision. Otherwise, Astral becomes free to sell itself to another company. And we already know at least one Canadian telco is lying in wait.

Photo: Jeff McIntosh, The Canadian Press