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Rogers Communications Names Vodafone’s Laurence as CEO

Rogers Communications Inc., Canada’s largest wireless carrier, ventured overseas to pick its new chief executive officer, naming Vodafone Group Plc’s Guy Laurence.

Laurence, who runs Vodafone’s U.K. division, will replace CEO Nadir Mohamed on Dec. 2, the Toronto-based company said today in a statement. Mohamed previously announced plans to step down in January.

Laurence will take the reins at Rogers as the carrier tries to fend off faster-growing wireless rivals BCE Inc. and Telus Corp. The government also is encouraging fresh competitors to come into Canada, presenting another threat to the company. To stay on top, Rogers has increased its investment in sports programming, giving it more content to sell to smartphone and digital-television subscribers.

“The breadth and depth of his experience in telecommunications, pay television and media are perfectly suited to Rogers and to the challenges and opportunities we see ahead,” Rogers Chairman Alan Horn said in the statement.

Laurence joined Vodafone, the world’s second-largest wireless carrier, in 2000. The 51-year-old was chief of its Dutch unit before taking over the U.K business in 2008. Prior to that, he worked at a range of media companies, including MGM Studios.

Rogers shares fell 1.2 percent to C$42.95 at 4 p.m. in Toronto. The stock has dropped 4.9 percent this year.

Spectrum Auction

Laurence will take over just a few weeks before Canada’s spectrum auction in January. Rogers, BCE and Telus have said they need the 700-megahertz airwaves up for grabs to meet surging data use from consumers. The government, however has restricted the Big Three to bidding for just one of four blocks of spectrum in each region of the country. Smaller rivals and foreign companies will be able to bid for two blocks.

Laurence oversaw Vodafone’s construction of faster, fourth-generation networks in the U.K., which started offering service in London last month after a 790.8 million-pound ($1.25 billion) investment in wireless spectrum in February.

He is known for his turnaround of Vodafone in Britain, through a combination of cost cuts and better customer service, said Greg MacDonald, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Markets in Toronto.

“This is the main positive” as the Canadian smartphone upgrade cycle matures, said MacDonald.

Mohamed said he will retire when Laurence becomes CEO. Laurence will be replaced at Vodafone by Jeroen Hoencamp, the head of the U.K. enterprise business and a former CEO of Vodafone Ireland.

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