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The Big Take

The Chairman Who Went to War With His Family to Get the Company Back

Edward Rogers has regained control of Rogers Communications. It may have gone against his father’s wishes and could cost him everything.

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From left: Loretta Rogers, Martha Rogers, Melinda Rogers-Hixon, Edward Rogers.

From left: Loretta Rogers, Martha Rogers, Melinda Rogers-Hixon, Edward Rogers.

Photo Illustration by 731; Photos: Getty Images (2); Reuters (2)

It was the deal of a generation. Joe Natale, chief executive officer of Rogers Communications Inc., Canada’s biggest wireless operator, struck a $16 billion agreement in March to take over rival Shaw Communications Inc. The long-anticipated union of two prominent business clans marked the birth of a new national champion. Flying into Calgary one bleak day last winter, Natale met his counterpart in an airport hangar to thrash out the key terms of the union, one that had been coveted for decades by the company’s late founder, Ted Rogers. Risky, debt-laden, yet potentially transformative, it was the kind of deal the swashbuckling titan would’ve loved. Little did Natale know that Ted Rogers’s only son at that moment was already maneuvering to oust him.

Over the next six months, Edward Rogers, who chaired both the board and the family trust controlling the company, ramped up efforts to undermine the CEO—planting doubt about Natale’s ability to navigate the Shaw deal among his family, including with his 82-year-old mother, Loretta Rogers. He pushed for a management shake-up that would seal his power over the $24 billion Toronto-based company. His family pushed back.