Opinion: Edward Rogers needs to learn that timing is everything

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If nothing else was going on at Rogers Communications Inc., you might understand that Chair Edward Rogers is acting up about the poor performance.

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Canada’s telecommunications industry is a fish bowl. It’s easy to compare the operating results of all the players, especially between Rogers and arch-rivals BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. Rogers, who was named chief executive officer four years ago, and peers on key metrics in its wireless business. such as increased sales, revenue per user and customer churn.

Edward Rogers was right when he said on Monday that there is “room for improvement” in Rogers’ long-term performance. The company’s stock market valuation is much lower than that of BCE and Telus. The chair would be appropriate in reviewing the CEO’s leadership, as part of the family controlling the company founded by his father, Ted Rogers. If these were normal times.

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However, as we all know, Rogers is on the cusp of an extraordinary feat.

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Shaw Communications Inc. by Mr. Natale Rogers. K is the author of the planned acquisition for $26 billion, which includes debt. If approved, the generation-to-generation transaction would make Rogers the national platform Ted Rogers always dreamed of.

The Shaw acquisition requires the blessing of the federal government. There is a need to reassure bureaucrats in the three different organs of government that they are handing essential Canadian infrastructure into safe, stable hands.

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With former chief financial officer Tony Stafieri, Edward Rogers Shaw is risking the transaction while pursuing a plan to replace Mr. Natale, a well-known face in regulatory circles. It was not surprising to hear most of Rogers’ directors, including other members of the Rogers family, oppose the change in leadership. The shock was that the plan gained traction at all.

As president, Edward Rogers’ time couldn’t have been worse. Recall that the Federal Liberals staged an unsuccessful coup against leader John Turner prior to the 1988 election, bearing in mind that all but one gave a second majority to Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservatives. How misguided does this crusade look.

Also remember that Mr. Natale spent the last 18 months running Rogers during the global health crisis. Customer service, equipment installation, marketing campaign, all the usual tasks had to be redone. As president, should Edward Rogers focus on the performance of the pandemic or what is to come?

Rogers reports financial results on Thursday, numbers that reflect an economy that is reopening. In a report published Monday, RBC Capital Markets analyst Drew McReynolds said, “We expect Rogers to be the biggest beneficiary of the uptick in the industry’s wireless activity.”

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If the Shaw deal goes through, Mr McReynolds anticipates the telecommunications company will head past the worst on key operating metrics. RBC Capital Markets forecasts that Rogers will grow wireless revenue by 7.3 percent in 2022, well ahead of rivals, while revenue and churn per customer will match or exceed BCE and Telus’ results.

Edward Rogers is 52 years old. He spent two decades in operational roles at the company before becoming deputy chair in 2009, then chairman in 2018. Cogeco Inc., Quebecor and the now defunct Canwest Global Communications. However, the Rogers board has consistently chosen to look outside the family for executive leadership.

In 2007, business writer Carolyn van Hasselt published a book on Rogers Communications called high wire act. She talked to Edward Rogers — head of the cable division at the time — about her future role at the company, and he said, “I want to take a shot at running it.”

Ms. Van Hasselt asked Ted Rogers about performances from a son, who was in his mid-40s at the time. Ted Rogers said: “Edward is doing a great job but he needs to mature. He is like a fine wine, he needs some time to mature.” By kicking off an ill-conceived leadership battle at a turning point in his company’s history, Edward Rogers is showing that wine still needs more time.

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