kenh truc tiep bong da hom nay

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When Edward Rogers was 23, a newly minted college graduate, his father sent him to Comcast Corp.’s headquarters in Philadelphia to take any lousy job he could find.

The late founder of Rogers Communications Inc. wanted his only son to see the cable business from the inside out. He called Ralph Roberts, Comcast’s chairman and long-time family friend, and told him to make Edward work all the Saturday night shifts that were available.

Edward was miserable. Six weeks into the job, he phoned home, protesting his conditions to his mother, Loretta.

“I just cannot understand it, just cannot understand it — I haven’t had a Saturday night off yet. Nobody else has had to work every Saturday night,” Ted recalls Edward saying, in an excerpt from his 2008 biography.

“After hanging up, Loretta came to me and asked what was going on, and I told her … I explained that the job was good for him.”

The message was clear: the architect of the $30-billion Canadian telecom company wanted to make sure his son had the experience and grit to inherit a dynasty.

The Rogers family is seen in an image from Ted's autobiography, "Relentless." From left: Martha, Ted, Edward, Melinda, wife Loretta, and Lisa. Martha recently released a series of posts on Twitter threatening to reveal information about her brother "from the last 20+ years."

Edward S. Rogers III, son of Edward S. “Ted” Rogers Jr. and grandson of Edward S. Rogers Sr., is now a force in the upper echelons of Rogers Communications Inc.

But he is not CEO. Ted never passed the crown through the bloodline, despite Edward’s ambition to take Rogers’ top job. Instead, he inherited the role of chairman to the Rogers Control Trust, the family trust that controls 97.5 per cent of the telecom’s voting shares, upon his father’s death in 2008.

In recent months, Edward has become a central character in a shocking boardroom crisis, first attempting to oust CEO Joe Natale in September before firing nearly half the board’s directors and replacing them with his allies.

But sources within Rogers’s upper ranks say Edward’s feuds with management are not new; rather, they are a routine part of life at the company and have played an instrumental role in the turmoil brewing over the past year.

In court documents filed on Friday, senior independent director John MacDonald wrote that the drama that began in September is “symptomatic of a pattern of behaviour that was all too familiar — Edward’s direct involvement with the CEO, bypassing the board altogether.”

Three sources familiar with the matter say Edward’s turbulent relationship with the board resulted in two resignations from independent directors between January and June 2021, part of a domino effect that culminated in a dramatic power struggle between Edward and senior board directors, including his mother and sisters, this month.

“Edward constantly interfered in the CEO’s decisions to hire or fire company executives. Edward consistently operated outside his job description to the detriment of proper board governance,” MacDonald wrote in court filings.

“Put simply, Edward tried to operate as an executive chairman when the board specifically provided in the position’s job description that that was not the role.”

Sources close to the Rogers family say those constant disputes reflect what they believe is Edward’s long-held desire to be the company’s chief visionary, regardless of the CEO’s agenda.

“He’s always wanted to lead his dad’s company,” one former executive told the Star.

A spokesperson for Edward Rogers denied the claims presented by multiple Star sources.

“He will not be responding to spurious claims, from anonymous sources, that are easily refutable,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

Now, just months from the planned $26-billion acquisition of Shaw Communications — something Ted dreamed of achieving — the Rogers boardroom is facing an uncertain future and new-found scrutiny, leaving the courts to decide who will control a Canadian dynasty.

***

The conventions of a family business dictate that the founder’s scion spends most of their life training for orderly succession.

For years, they are tested with managerial tasks and deck work — subjected to grating pressure but blessed with nepotistic indulgence — until the patriarch (and it is almost always a patriarch) is convinced his child can steer the ship without sinking it.

This is especially true in Canadian telecommunications. JR Shaw, founder of Shaw Communications Inc., passed the company to his son Jim Shaw Jr. in 1998. Louis Audet took over for his father, Henri Audet, at Cogeco in 1993. Pierre Karl Péladeau, the wily billionaire at the helm of Quebecor, took hold of the company after his dad’s sudden death in 1997.

The story at Rogers is more complicated.

A statue of Ted Rogers is unveiled by his wife and children outside the Rogers Centre on July 23, 2013. From left to right excluding the RCMP officers are: Edward Rogers, Lisa Rogers, Melinda Rogers-Hixon, Martha Rogers and Loretta Rogers.

It was once almost inevitable Edward would be heir to the Rogers throne. “There’s no question that Ted wanted Edward to succeed him,” a company insider told the Star in 2000. But as Ted approached retirement — something he habitually delayed — sources felt his confidence in Edward was deteriorating.

Publicly, Ted was coy about succession.

“The biggest risk of placing Edward as the CEO of cable is (that he will do a) less than competent job. He knows that, too. I didn’t ask him to run for the job. He asked me. And I’ve told him, ‘Look, if you don’t produce, I’ve got to take you out,’ ” the founder told the Globe and Mail in a 2003 profile.

Then again: “But I have no doubt that that will not be the case ... He’s quite methodical, competent, hard-working and a reasonable human being.”

Unlike their father, Edward and his sisters grew up in the lap of luxury. They spent summers at the cottage in Muskoka and winter trips on Rogers’s yacht in the Bahamas. His parents enrolled Edward at Upper Canada College, the cream of Toronto society, before attending the University of Western Ontario, where he joined Sigma Chi fraternity and earned the nickname “fast Eddie” for his love of practical jokes.

In the Rogers household, the most admired trait was a knack for entrepreneurship. As a teenager, Edward developed a food delivery service for the neighbouring Muskokan cottages, aptly named Rogers’ Food Services. The experience landed him in trouble when a local grocer in Port Carling complained to the Ontario Ministry of Health — something about improper refrigeration, Edward once quipped to reporters.

Like his mother, Edward was artistically inclined. He had a talent for painting at an early age, dabbling with watercolours while Loretta painted with oil. (Her work covers the walls of the corporate office in Toronto in an area dubbed the “Loretta Walk”).

As the family’s only son, Edward was widely expected to join his father’s business. Family friends say the pressure weighed on him, suggesting to Caroline Van Hasselt in her book “High Wire Act” — a sweeping account of Rogers’ rise — that Ted’s dogged ambitions for his son contributed to Edward’s slight stutter.

Both in character and appearance, he shared little in common with his dad. Ted was blond and lanky, standing at six-foot-three and often sporting ill-proportioned suits. Edward, at five feet 11 inches, has dark features and neatly combed hair, carefully attentive to his wardrobe.

While Ted was boisterous and extroverted — he was known to hold three birthday parties for himself a year, on three consecutive days — Edward is known to be conservative and focused, decidedly withdrawn from the spotlight in which Ted revelled, though prone to a similar sense of humour.

Melinda Rogers-Hixon, Edward’s younger sister, has been described by friends and former Rogers executives as the one most like Ted. When she joined the company, after years spent working in Silicon Valley, she became known around the office as “Ted in a skirt,” according to Van Hasselt, sharing his quick wit and unpredictable temper.

“(Melinda is) a nimble intellectual, like Ted, with wide-ranging interests, very quick, outgoing and gregarious,” John Tory, who ran Rogers’ cable operations before stepping into politics, said in an interview with the Star in 2000.

“Where Melinda will talk about six topics at once, Edward will focus on one thing. He is thoughtful and dogged and, like Melinda, interested in the parts of the business that represent our future growth potential,” Tory said.

Edward joined Rogers Cable as director of sales in 1994, not long after returning from Comcast. He was moved through various divisions of the company, once as vice-president of the company’s wireless group and later as vice-president and general manager of Rogers Cable.

In 2000, he was moved by his father to Rogers Communications as a senior vice-president, where he reported to then-CFO and current board member Alan Horn. In 1997, he joined the company board.

Edward, then in his early 30s, grew fixated on becoming Rogers’ CEO, according to those who knew him at the time. In the aughts, as Ted approached retirement, he jockeyed to fill the role.

But Ted was doubtful of his son’s ability to operate the company, sources close to the family said. He once told Van Hasselt, then a reporter at Bloomberg: “(Edward’s) like a good wine; he needs some time to mature.”

Ted and Edward Rogers are seen at a benefit dinner in this file photo from 2006. "(Edward's) like a good wine; he needs some time to mature," Ted once told reporter Caroline Van Hasselt.

Privately, the founder was headhunting outside the family. In 2000, on the cusp of the cellphone boom, Nadir Mohamed was hired from Telus to run Rogers’ wireless division. He quickly climbed the company ranks as its mobile sales exploded.

Edward was bothered by Mohamed’s fast success at Rogers, sources close to the company said. In a note he wrote to Ted in 2008, verified by the Star, Edward argued that while Mohamed was personable and popular within the company, he did not believe Mohamed to be equally hard-working or a responsible candidate for the top job.

But Ted had made up his mind. According to multiple sources familiar with the matter, Ted had repeatedly told Edward he should not run for CEO, to spare him the awkwardness of being rejected, if he was not certain he was up to the task.

In 2008, when Ted died, Mohamed was tapped to succeed him. Edward accepted a role as executive vice-president, second-in-command to Mohamed.

To keep the company in family hands, however, Edward also inherited control of the company’s family trust, the corporate entity that owns 97.5 per cent of Rogers’s voting shares. The trust, created to secure the Rogers family’s control over the public company, wields immense influence on key decisions at the company.

Ted’s initial design was for one of his children to occupy the chair for two years, and then have an appointed committee of family and close friends review the chair’s performance. Edward has occupied the chair position ever since his father’s death.

Sources who worked at Rogers at the time say Edward acted as though he were CEO, giving commands to management regardless of the actual CEO’s agenda. In the years that followed, executives and directors joined and left the company at a dizzying speed.

Mohamed lasted five years in the top job. Mohamed reportedly asked for more flexibility in the role — including the possibility that Edward and Melinda might have to drop their titles as executives on the board — to no avail.

He left the post shortly thereafter, in December 2013, without explanation.

Guy Laurence, the former head of Vodafone UK who joined Rogers to replace Mohamed, lasted less than three years. The company was facing operational pitfalls and poor planning. But Laurence’s deteriorating relationship with the Rogers family caused the most strain, sources close to the matter said, largely because he removed Edward and Melinda from their operational roles early in his tenure, stripping them of their management titles.

In 2016, Laurence was abruptly fired by Edward without any advance notice or discussion with the board, MacDonald, the senior board member, wrote in court filings.

One former Rogers executive, who expressed otherwise positive experiences working with Edward, also acknowledged his former employer’s aversion to dissent.

“You understood, working for him, that he had a strong feeling of where the business should go,” the former executive told the Star.

“If you disagreed, you could debate with him. But at the end of the day you knew that you were either going his way or you were going to be in trouble.”

Three sources close to the boardroom told the Star that, in recent years, Edward frequently circumvented Rogers’s current CEO, Joe Natale, and approached executives directly with instructions that were at odds with Natale’s leadership.

Edward Rogers, centre, stands with mourners at the funeral for his father, Ted Rogers, in Toronto on Dec. 9, 2008.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, senior independent board member John Clappison was tasked with trying to limit Edward’s interactions with the management team so as not to interfere with the CEO, the sources say. Clappison’s seniority on the board, and his independence from the company, would give him the diplomatic freedom to advise Edward on good governance, board members thought.

But Edward resisted Clappison’s efforts to constrict him, sources close to the board said, and he later approached the board’s nominating committee to tell them he wanted Clappison gone.

“A victim of shoot-the-messenger,” one source close to the board told the Star.

The committee resisted, according to multiple sources, and in a testy meeting in October 2020, Edward threatened to remove them all.

Clappison left the company a few months later, this past January, “over Edward’s repeated efforts to override Board-approved policies and practices,” MacDonald wrote in court filings.

Isabelle Marcoux, chair of the human resources committee, left in June.

***

For a while, when Ted was alive, the Rogers headquarters was equipped with 18 life-saving defibrillator packs, useful in the event of heart attacks.

They were installed in the building after a dramatic family feud involving the children caused Ted to collapse in his Forest Hill home in August 2003, in the midst of Toronto’s famed summer blackout.

The family meeting “was upsetting,” Ted recalled to Van Hasselt in “High Wire Act.”

But near-death experiences made him think of succession. His own father, Edward Rogers Sr., died of a sudden aneurysm at 38 when Ted was only five.

Ted’s children were promptly taught how to use the devices.

Now, the family is fighting again.

In the early months of 2021, sources at Rogers say that Edward’s tenuous relationship with Natale provoked dysfunction among management.

Natale was “so fed up” with his relationship with the founder’s son, according to one source close to him, that he was ready to abandon his post at the top of the company.

The exodus among the independent directors meant that, by the time Edward presented his plan in September to retire Natale and replace him with Tony Staffieri, who was then the CFO, there were only five independent directors — directors who do not have conflicting relationships with the company — who were available to vote.

In contrast, there were six non-independent directors, including the Rogers family members — Edward, Martha, Loretta and Melinda — and long-time advisers Philip Lind and Alan Horn.

Soon, Edward would move to rid the board of those independent directors, too.

Several independent directors reluctantly agreed to approve Natale’s retirement package in a 10-1 vote at the Sept. 24 meeting, feeling like Edward had presented the plan as a done-deal that had been engineered outside the board’s purview, as the Star previously reported.

After a weekend of debate, Edward’s mother and sisters changed their minds. Natale must stay, they posited. Staffieri needed to leave.

At a Sept. 26 meeting, Martha, the youngest sibling, moved to create a new board committee — one that would “manage” Edward’s relationship with the company’s executives.

Edward, according to court filings, was “shocked.”

Over the next month, the boardroom fell into disarray.

Edward threatened to remove the nonfamily members that supported his sisters and mother. The family trust’s advisory committee — a group of Ted’s closest family and friends, including Mayor John Tory — met to reach a compromise, and to constrain Edward from firing the board members.

Ted Rogers and wife Loretta in 2000. Loretta moved to remove her son as chair of the board in October.

When talks broke down, Loretta voted to oust her son as chairman of the board.

Edward fired back with haste, tapping his control of the trust to oust those five independent members and appoint his allies.

The board claimed Edward’s move was illegitimate, and would proceed with the same members as before. Edward claimed his board — with his newly-appointed allies — was the real one.

(David Peterson, one of the five directors Edward moved to oust from the board, is also vice-chair of Torstar Corp., the company that owns the Toronto Star).

Martha took to Twitter, where she released a series of posts threatening to reveal information about her brother “from the last 20+ years.”

“Bring. It. On.,” she wrote. “I’ll gladly blow up my life to stop this.”

They had briefly convened at Loretta’s cottage in September, just the family and Ted’s oldest confidants in search of a resolution, but they could not find one.

So, with the family divided into factions, and with two boards claiming control over one company, the family headed to the courts.

Edward is now petitioning the B.C. Supreme Court to approve his attempts to change the board’s makeup, ousting the five directors and replacing them with his own. Edward’s mother and sisters, along with the rest of the board, are arguing that Edward cannot reconstitute the board without first calling a shareholder meeting. At this point in the case, it is not certain who will win.

Early on in a 408-page document Edward filed with the court last Tuesday, supporting his actions to remove and replace five directors, he quoted from his father’s autobiography, “Relentless.”

“There has to be an individual controlling shareholder to whom the board of directors and the chief executive officer can turn when needed,” the founder wrote in 2008, looking to the future.

“It sounds complicated, but the plan supports my two fundamental wishes: keep RCI under Rogers family control, and ensure someone is in charge.”

Now, the courts will decide: is that “someone” Edward?

Jacob Lorinc is a Toronto-based reporter covering business for the Star. Reach him via email: jlorinc@thestar.ca
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