Joe Natale out as Rogers CEO, to be replaced by former CFO Staffieri

Edward Rogers, whose family controls Rogers Communications, tried to get Natalen to leave in September and had a plan to replace him with Tony Staffieri.

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Less than two weeks after Edward Rogers was given the green light by the Supreme Court of British Columbia for his change of board of directors of Rogers Communications Inc., Joe Natale is out as CEO of the telecommunications giant.

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Natale’s replacement is Tony Staffieri, the company’s former chief financial officer, according to a statement released late Tuesday by the $ 30 billion telecommunications company. which has cable, internet and wireless operations across the country.

Staffieri will be an interim CEO as well as a candidate, as the company is looking for someone to take the job permanently.

Edward Rogers, whose family controls 97.5 percent of Rogers Communications’ voting shares by trust, tried to get Natalen to leave in September and had a plan to replace him with Saffieri. But after 10 of 11 directors initially voted in favor of a negotiated exit package for Natale, some of the company’s directors including members of Edward’s family voted instead to keep Natale and get rid of Staffieri.

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Sources familiar with the unfolding drama said a board meeting was convened late Tuesday after Edward Rogers revealed a plan to bring Saffieri back into the firm and Natale refused.

The statement issued by the company on Tuesday evening contained quotes from all three men that suggested goodwill and a return to stability.

Edward Rogers thanked Natale for “his leadership and contributions” to the company, including “paving the way” for a merger with rival Shaw Communications, which Rogers Communications is acquiring for $ 26 billion, pending regulatory approval. He praised Staffieri’s work ethic, reputation, record results and focus on long-term strategic growth, and said as interim CEO, he will lead an experienced leadership team that will continue to focus on trade, return to stability and closing the transformation merger with Shaw .

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But in a clear sign that the family drama behind the recent corporate and board changes is not over, Edward Loretta’s mother and sister Martha Rogers and Melinda Rogers-Hixon said in a statement that they are “disappointed that Edward caused the end of Joe Natale . ”

They called Natale a “world-class telecom leader” and reiterated that they believe he is the right person to lead the company as CEO.

“The three of us voted against this misleading decision (to leave Natale), which creates great uncertainty for RCI and its employees, customers, sports fans and shareholders, not to mention the Shaw transaction,” they said.

“This is simply another case in which Edward put his desire for uncontrolled control of RCI (Rogers) before basic good governance and responsible corporate governance.”

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Rob Gemmell, the company’s chief executive, released a statement late Tuesday in which he said Rogers’ board had “expressed support for Joe Natale as CEO” over the past week and a half “and worked diligently and confidently to establish. a working relationship that would see Mr. Natale remain in his position “through the closure of the Shaw merger.

“Unfortunately, a mutually acceptable arrangement could not be reached,” Gemmell said, adding that Natale will be replaced by Saffieri, given “the need for continuity, stability and the rapid closure” of the deal.

In the company’s statement, Natale said he is “grateful for the opportunity to guide Rogers Communications through a critical time in its history” and added that he remains excited about the potential of Shaw’s acquisition. He said it was “a privilege to build a team of such extraordinary character and ability” and he wished the staff “continued success and good luck in the future.”

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In the same statement, Saffieri said it is a “true privilege and honor” to take on the role of Interim President and CEO, adding that he is “excited to work in this new role with the Rogers family, the Board, the leadership team and (staff) from coast-to-coast-to-coast. “

The corporate change comes at a crucial time for Rogers Communications, with the Rogers and Shaw teams, including Edward Rogers, appearing before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on November 22 to seek approval for the Shaw acquisition.

The corporate and family quarrel led to an unusual situation where, for a time, two different boards claimed they controlled the company. In court documents filed before the hearing in BC earlier this month, Edward Rogers claimed that the board’s sudden change of opinion on Natale’s departure in September caused him to lose faith in five of the company’s independent directors and he tried to remove them.

In turn, he was stripped of the role of chairman of the board of directors, a position he later retook after rebuilding the board of directors with five of his own hand-elected directors.

On November 5, BC Supreme Court Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick ruled that Edward Rogers had the power, through his position as chairman of the Rogers family trust, to change directors and do so without calling a stock meeting.

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