Rogers CEO Ready to Depart if Board Changes; Sister Vows to ‘Spend Every Penny’

Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI) and the Rogers family, which owns a controlling interest in the telco, have been ripped apart by an internal power struggle that’s been dragging on since late last month, and now spilling onto social media.

After former RCI board chairman Edward Rogers’ plans to oust up to 9 of the company’s 11 top executives came to light, the company relieved him of his position on Thursday and replaced him with longtime director John MacDonald.

Rogers has since used his influence as chair of the Rogers Control Trust, which maintains voting control of the company and owns 97.5% of its voting Class A shares, to serve RCI with a shareholder resolution mandating the removal of five members of the company’s Board of Directors, including MacDonald, to be replaced by individuals nominated by the Trust.

On Friday, the RCI board issued a statement deeming Edward Rogers’ resolution “invalid”, and affirming that no changes would be made to the Board of Directors at present.

The RCI board, chairman John MacDonald, and Martha Rogers (Edward’s sister) and her allies — including sister Melinda Rogers-Hixon and their mother, Loretta Rogers, have now taken up arms against Edward Rogers and his attempt to supplant the current management — reports the Financial Post.

According to The Globe and Mail and its sources, RCI Chief Executive Officer Joe Natale and the majority of his 11-member executive team are considering a mass exodus from the telco, and are prepared to leave should Edward Rogers succeed in cementing control over Canada’s largest wireless carrier.

It’s interesting to note The Globe and Mail’s original story headline has been revised, but the URL slug still shows the history. The original headline said CEO Joe Natale and the executive was prepared to depart if Edward Rogers’ move succeeds but has since been quietly changed to “Board votes, backroom deals and betrayal: The battle for control at Rogers.”

Edward Rogers said in a statement that he is willing to work with the company’s leadership, but that RCI needs “a management team that is committed to this business and to closing the Shaw merger.”

Martha Rogers, on the other hand, is gearing up to take Mr. Rogers on. “We’ll spend every penny defending the company, employees & Ted’s wishes, nothing you can do will deter us,” said the sister of Edward in a tweet.

“Unlike Ed I have no lawyers, PR spin firms, staff or media training. Don’t need it. I’m no one special, just a fairly ordinary woman put in extraordinary circumstances. Ted put me on the board as a check and balance to ensure nothing this insane occurs. This is for you Dad,” explained Martha on Saturday morning. Her Twitter bio says she is a naturopathic doctor.

The Rogers sister went on to outline terms of surrender for Mr. Rogers, and reiterated that she has no plans of backing down.

Walied Soliman, legal representation for deputy chair of the Rogers Family Trust Melinda Rogers-Hixon, said he also believes the RCI board remains intact and that Edward Rogers has no legal standing to unilaterally change the board of a public company on a moment’s notice

“Any assertion that the independent directors of Rogers could be removed by a written resolution is simply false at law,” said Soliman. “The board of RCI remains constituted exactly the same as it was yesterday. The change that Edward Rogers is seeking will conservatively take many months.”

While RCI’s executive management is in turmoil, the Canadian Competition Bureau is currently reviewing the telecom’s proposed $16 billion USD takeover of Shaw Communications, the fourth largest wireless operator in the country.