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Rogers agrees with Canada's competition bureau to put Shaw merger on hold

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FILE PHOTO: Rogers Communications' building in Toronto
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TORONTO (Reuters) -Rogers Communications Inc on Monday said it will not proceed to close its proposed C$20 billion ($15.8 billion) purchase of Shaw Communications Inc until it reaches an deal with the competition bureau or the competition tribunal gives its verdict.

Rogers also signaled that it is open for a settlement with the bureau but said it does not agree with the bureau's conclusions for rejecting the deal and will contest the ruling.

"Today's agreement with the Commissioner allows the parties to focus on addressing the Commissioner’s concerns with the Transaction in order to reach a settlement," said Rogers spokesperson in a statement.

Rogers also agreed not enforce any agreements that are connected with the transaction on the grounds that such a move would "limit the operation, maintenance, enhancement or expansion of the Shaw Wireless Services business."

Canada's competition bureau has blocked the deal and approached the tribunal to stop merger on the grounds that it would lessen competition in the telecom sector.

Rogers was expected to file a response to the bureau's challenge by Tuesday. Monday's announcement will provide Rogers more time to explore a settlement with the bureau, including a potential concessions, according to legal experts who did not wish to be quoted due to the sensitivity of the issue.

"Vigorous competition is essential for Canadians to access affordable, high quality wireless services. I’m pleased this case can now move quickly towards a hearing before the tribunal, said Matthew Boswell, commissioner of competition.

($1 = 1.2655 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Divya Rajagopal; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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