Rogers Failed in Getting Telus to End Former CEO’s Non-Compete

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The Financial Post reports that Canada’s No.1 carrier, Rogers, has asked Telus three times during the past few months to release former executive Joseph Natale from his non-compete agreement, which will expire in nine months. Telus, however, doesn’t appear to be rushing things, people familiar with the matter have said.

Alongside the third-quarter results, Rogers surprised the industry by releasing its CEO Guy Laurence from his duties and replacing him with Natale. After spending only three years leading the country’s biggest carrier, Laurence was replaced due to clashes with the board and the Rogers family over his management style and decisions.

But before officially appointing Natale, Rogers was hoping to free the former Telus executive from his non-compete agreement, which expires two years after he resigned from Telus, in July 2017.

The problem is that if Rogers doesn’t convince Telus, it will remain without a CEO for the next nine months. Still, Natale was too irresistible to Rogers:

“When Joe [Natale] became available, it became too irresistible,” said a Rogers source who asked not to be named. “Here was a guy with real operations experience who ran one of our major competitors. The opportunity to was just too good to pass.”

The former Telus executive, however, first sought the current Telus CEO Darren Entwistle’s “blessing” before he started negotiating with Rogers. The formal talks were handled by a small, tight circle of Rogers execs, and when they finally reached an agreement, sources say Rogers gave Telus a heads up on its hiring plan.

As that tight circle has meanwhile widened, Rogers has become “paranoid” that Telus might file a legal injunction, so it has decided to publicly announce the move. It still anticipates a legal injunction from its competitor, though.