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Rogers board votes to remove chairman after family feud erupts into open

Rogers board votes to remove chairman after family feud erupts into open

FILE PHOTO: A sign is pictured outside a Rogers Communications retail store in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada July 20, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

The board of Rogers Communications has voted to remove Edward Rogers as chairman, the company said on Thursday, amid a tussle between the family members of late founder Ted Rogers over who should lead one of Canada's biggest telecoms companies.

Rogers Communications top boss Joe Natale said on Thursday he had "unequivocal support" of the board, after Edward Rogers attempted to replace him with the company's now former chief financial officer in late September, a move that put him at odds with his sisters and mother, all of whom said they supported Natale.

Edward Rogers has been removed as chair but remains a director, the company said in a statement.

"This has been a challenging time for the Corporation and I want to reaffirm on behalf of the majority of the Board our support for and total confidence in the management team and CEO of Rogers Communications,” John A MacDonald, the board director who replaced Rogers as chair, said in a statement.

Natale's comments were the first since a rare boardroom dispute in Canada's corporate landscape spilled into the open last month, surprising investors and analysts. The clash comes as Rogers is trying to boost its position in Canada's highly concentrated telecoms market with a C$20 billion (US$16.2 billion) takeover bid for smaller rival Shaw Communications.

The deal is attracting scrutiny from multiple government regulators over whether it will decrease competition.

Natale was talking to analysts after the company's earnings beat estimates, while revenue matched expectations. He told analysts that Thursday's board meeting was "a very strong, collaborative and thoughtful discussion with all board members” on the future of the business including the Shaw acquisition.

Chairman Edward Rogers' unsuccessful bid to replace Natale was opposed by his sister and deputy chair, Melinda Rogers-Hixon, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported last week. Chief Financial Officer Tony Staffieri suddenly exited last month.

In documents released alongside its third-quarter earnings results, the board said it had created a committee comprised of three directors, including Rogers-Hixon, to "establish clear protocols for interactions between the Chair and members of management."

The board would also undertake a corporate governance review, the document said.

Edward Rogers was trying to replace five of the company's board members with people loyal to him, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday. Reuters could not immediately reach the chairman for a comment and Rogers Communications did not offer any comment.

"While messy boardroom and family discussions continue to play out in the media, the Q3 results from Rogers show meaningful signs of improvement on many key metrics," TD Securities analysts said in a post-earnings note.

On Tuesday, Edward Rogers said there was "room for improvement" in the company's long-term performance following a report that he had held talks with potential candidates to replace board members.

Rogers added 175,000 subscribers who pay a monthly bill as demand rebounded on easing pandemic-led travel restrictions, while wireless service revenue increased 3 per cent.

Total revenue was C$3.67 billion in the three months ended Sep 30, largely in line with an estimate of C$3.68 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Excluding items, Rogers earned C$1.03 per share, compared with expectations of C$1.02.

Rogers shares fell 1.8 per cent on Thursday, taking their year-to-date gains to 1.6 per cent, compared with a 15.6 per cent rally in BCE Inc and nearly 13.5 per cent gains in Telus Corp.

Source: Reuters

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