Rogers Boardroom Drama is Telus and Bell’s ‘Biggest Dream’, Says Family Member
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Melinda Rogers-Hixon said she wanted peace — both within her family and inside the boardroom of Rogers Communications Inc. (RCI).
Deep rifts formed between members of the Rogers family after a messy battle for control of Canada’s largest wireless and cable company.
RCI Chairman Edward Rogers attempted to replace CEO Joe Natale, finding him to be underperforming, with the company’s CFO, Tony Staffieri, in September. The power struggle ended with Staffieri being fired and Mr. Rogers’ removal from his position as chairman of the board.
Following his dismissal, Edward Rogers created a Board of Directors of his own and took to the courts, petitioning them to rule on the legitimacy of his board vs. the acting RCI board. The courts ruled in favour of Edward Rogers, giving Ms. Rogers-Hixon’s brother control of the company.
Since then, Mr. Rogers has replaced former CEO Joe Natale with Tony Staffieri and shuffled top executives to fulfill his vision of new leadership at Rogers Communications.
Mr. Rogers and Ms. Rogers-Hixon aren’t on the best of terms, but she is confident that she and her older brother can patch things up and put this mess behind them. In fact, she believes the two and the rest of their family owe it to their employees, customers, and shareholders to do so.
It shouldn’t be all that hard, since she says she never once doubted Mr. Rogers’ intentions. “I believe that my brother wants to do what’s right for the company,” she said during a 90-minute interview.
However, that doesn’t mean the pair are on the same page just yet. Ms. Rogers-Hixon still disagrees with her brother’s choice of CEO, and even hinted at discontent among the telco’s top ranks.
“If you are doing a job search for somebody to run a $50 billion CAD corporation, I fully and firmly believe operating experience is a must. And not even six months of operating experience,” she said. “Former CEO experience would be, frankly, very nice as well.” Staffieri is a career finance executive, with ‘CEO’ nowhere to be found on his résumé.
Even so, Ms. Rogers-Hixon wishes to reconcile with her brother as RCI moves into the final stages of a momentous and long-awaited $16 billion takeover of Shaw Communications Inc.
Ms. Rogers-Hixon also pointed out the importance of having a united front when RCI’s competitors can smell blood in the water.
“Think of Bell or Telus,” she said. “This is their biggest dream. The more unstable we are, the harder it is for us to execute and the easier it is for them to outperform us.”
Ms. Rogers-Hixon went on to say that she knows she and her brother need to find a way to turn things around. “It’s an obligation, a responsibility — not only as a board member and a shareholder but as a member of the family. And as a daughter of my father’s.”
She also concluded her father Ted Rogers would be shocked at the recent events, noting he would probably “kick our ass” and be “pissed” at the internal boardroom drama.