Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rogers Chairman Fills in as CEO While Awaiting Arrival of Joe Natale

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Rogers Chairman Fills in as CEO While Awaiting Arrival of Joe Natale

Article excerpt

Rogers CEO departs, successor in the wings


TORONTO - In a surprise move, Rogers Communications announced Monday the immediate departure of its CEO Guy Laurence and the uncertain arrival time for his replacement, former Telus chief executive Joe Natale.

The man assigned to bridge the gap as interim CEO of the telecommunications and media giant -- veteran Rogers chairman Alan Horn -- said the company is working to hire Natale as soon as he is able to join.

"We can't be more specific on timing at present," Horn said in a conference call.

Analysts noted that Natale is bound by a non-compete contract with Telus. They asked why the change of leadership was announced Monday and why Laurence departed so abruptly, without a transition period.

Horn said the timing of the change was driven by an opportunity to get Natale "who we think is a unique individual in terms of the Canadian telecom landscape."

As for a smoother transition between Laurence and Natale, Horn said each situation is unique and "in this case, the actual situation meant this was the way this transition had to take place."

Natale and Laurence didn't issue statements in the announcement and couldn't be reached for comment.

Laurence, a former head of Vodafone UK, was brought to Canada with great fanfare in late 2013 to turn the company around following a period of lacklustre growth.

His departure came minutes before Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) announced its latest financial report, which showed the impact of a failed attempt to use Shomi to compete against Netflix but success in other parts of the business.

Horn said repeatedly that there was no change planned for the strategic direction taken by Laurence and that there's a strong management team in place to carry on the progress.

"There was a growing perception that Rogers was getting back on track as evidenced by the strength in its stock price both this year and the second half of last year," CanaccordGenuity analyst Aravinda Galappatthige wrote in a client note.

Chief financial officer Tony Staffieri said that the company had a solid third quarter -- with its biggest division, wireless, having one of its best growth in years and the media division performing well because of its sports coverage. …

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