Judge tees up Friday finale for Rogers boardroom drama

A Canadian judge will rule on November 5 whether an attempt by ousted Rogers Communications board chairman Edward Rogers to regain his position was legal, ending a weeks-long internal dispute which spilled over into a public battle.

Edward Rogers was removed from his post as chairman in October after an effort to replace a majority of the operator’s senior executives, including CEO Joe Natale, was shot down by other board members. After the scuffle came to light, Rogers’ mother and sisters publicly backed Natale. While Rogers was allowed to remain on the board, John A. MacDonald was named as its new chairman.

Following his removal, Rogers revealed a plan to supplant five of the board’s members, including MacDonald, with hand-picked replacements. He sought to execute the plan by wielding his power as chair of Rogers Control Trust, an entity which holds voting control over Rogers Communications, to push through a resolution to that effect.

However, the operator questioned the legality of the maneuver, calling it “unprecedented” and “invalid” and insisting a meeting of shareholders was required to alter the board’s composition.

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Attorneys for both the operator and Edward Rogers argued their positions before the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Monday. Reuters reported lawyers representing the operator stated company rules require a meeting to be held to replace board members. The former chairman’s attorneys contended his control over a majority of voting shares gave him the power to act and install his picks.

Justice Shelley Fitzpatrick plans to issue a decision on Friday, Reuters noted.

In March, Rogers Communications announced a $16 billion deal to acquire rival Shaw Communications. Though an end to the boardroom row is potentially in reach, analysts have questioned whether the public spectacle might prompt Shaw Communications to pull out of the deal.

Last week, however, Shaw CEO Brad Shaw issued a statement reiterating its “continued commitment to work with Rogers to close the transaction.” He offered no insight into its thoughts on the dispute, stating “it is not appropriate for Shaw to comment on recent events at Rogers.”

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is set to hold a hearing about the proposed tie-up between Rogers and Shaw on November 22.