Edward Rogers not giving up, seeking to get rid of 5 members of Rogers board

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Edward Rogers not giving up, seeking to get rid of 5 members of Rogers board
© Chris Young/The Canadian Press Edward Rogers was removed as company chair on Thursday, but he has not given up his attempts to shake up control of the company.

Despite being removed as chair of the company that bears his name, Edward Rogers is not giving up in his battle for control.

In a press release late Thursday, Edward Rogers says he is seeking to remove five members of the board of Rogers Communications Inc. and replace them with five of his choosing.

In the release, Edward says he “believes that it would be in the best interests of RCI to reconstitute the board.”

The move comes after Edward was removed as chair of the company on Thursday amid a messy battle for control behind the scenes. In September, Edward tried to get rid of CEO Joe Natale and put the company’s chief financial officer, Tony Staffieri, into the top job.

But Natale got wind of the plan, and an emergency board meeting was called, a meeting at which three members of the Rogers family — sisters Melinda and Martha, along with their mother, Loretta — banded together to stop Edward’s plan.

Staffieri left the company abruptly within days. But that didn’t stop Edward’s attempts to make changes at the top.

After weeks of behind-the-scenes battles, he was voted out as chair of the board of the company his father, Ted, founded. He was replaced as chair by independent director John MacDonald, who is among the five board members that Edward is trying to remove, along with John Clappison, David Peterson, Bonnie Brooks and Ellis Jacob.

Still on company board

While out as chair, Edward Rogers remains on the company’s board. And his move to replace other members of the board suggests he’s still seeking change at the top.

“This story may not be over,” Prof. Richard Powers with the Rotman School of Management in Toronto told CBC News in an interview on Thursday evening.

While Rogers Communications Inc. is a public company with shares that freely trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the family maintains effective control over the company through an entity known as the Rogers Control Trust that has 97 per cent of the company’s A shares, which have 50 times more voting rights than the shares that float on the stock market.

Powers says he thinks Edward has made a gross miscalculation.

“Edward thought he had more sway than he did, but he certainly wasn’t able to sway his family members. And … the big stick on that board is Loretta,” Powers said, referring to Ted’s widow. “She is … the matriarch of the family and to go ahead with a coup without her support … just questions his judgment.”

Investment analyst Jerome Dubreuil with money manager Desjardins said in a note to clients on Friday that the power struggle is a distraction.

“It appears that the board is doing everything it can to address the situation quickly in order to stabilize management and governance processes long before the acquisition of [Shaw] closes,” he said, referring to the company’s planned $26 billion takeover of Shaw, which faces numerous regulatory hurdles.

“Still, we believe this series of events may very well not be over,” Dubreuil said.

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