Rogers family dispute is like the Roy family’s hot mess
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
In recent weeks, one of the major service providers and media empires in Canada had a dispute that went public and got everyone’s attention. It began when Rogers Communications’ Edward Rogers attempted to fire the company’s current CEO, Joe Natale. Natale then told the company’s Board of Directors which included some of Rogers’s family members and ended up removing him as the Chair of the Board. Last week, the BC Provincial Court ruled in favour of Edward that his decision to remove board members is legal and the company later decided to not appeal it.
The main issue of the dispute is Edward Rogers removing five independent members on the board and replacing them with his allies. There was a clause in the Rogers Family Trust developed by his late father, Ted Rogers, that Edward has the right to remove board members since he has a large share of the company. One CTV News reporter likened the dispute to watching the TV show Succession. The Emmy-winning show which is currently airing its third season has similarities to the Rogers family but also Rupert Murdoch and his family, which the show is loosely based on.
In Succession, you have Logan Roy who is the CEO of Waystar/Royco. Despite him promising his oldest son, Kendall, that he will lead the company when he retires, he revises the rules of their family trust and deceives the people around him to try to keep power at the age of 80 despite having health issues. After Logan has a stroke, Kendall temporarily takes over the company and later finds out that the company has a lot of debt and that there might be more clauses. Even one of Kendall’s brothers who would also be his COO mentioned that while the company tries to recover from its losses and restructures in an evolving digital world, things would be hard.
Back to Rogers, they have a two-class stock system. There are Class B stocks where company officials can only invest and Class A stocks where individuals can invest as well as have their say on company decisions and sharing their wealth. Rogers mainly has Class A stocks where Edward Rogers has most of those shares; conversely, many companies including Facebook (renamed Meta) and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) have more balanced shares.
The Rogers family dispute also happened during the middle of a merger between them and Shaw where they would not only acquire their services but also Corus Entertainment which manages Global and its networks. This would help Rogers which manages Citytv, Sportsnet, and other publications. The federal government has yet to approve the merger which could be affected by the dispute.
Going back to Succession, Waystar owns news media, publications, and amusement parks making them an old-fashioned company. In the first four episodes, Kendall and his team were able to acquire another company and that company’s CEO ends up getting a spot in Waystar’s Board of Directors. It is common today for companies to buy companies which can lead to less competition and possible rate increases. These uncanny similarities serve to make the comparison between the two situations more palpable.
Both Kendall and his siblings and the Rogers family (including Edward’s mother) teamed up to prevent their patriarchs from having a lot of power, but the Rogers family was very open about their situation on social media. The family still fights for control of the company which could lead to a different landscape in Canadian business. However, when it comes to Succession and the Roy family’s hot mess so far, I think that Logan should retire.