(Adds portfolio manager comment, share move, details from
By Alastair Sharp
TORONTO Oct 17 Rogers Communications Inc
Chief Executive Guy Laurence is stepping down
effective immediately, the Canadian telecom company said on
Monday, an unexpected departure that came as it reported a sharp
fall in quarterly profit.
Laurence, a former Vodafone UK executive brought in a little
less than three years ago, will eventually be replaced by former
Telus Corp chief Joe Natale.
Alan Horn will serve as interim CEO, the company said. It
did not give a specific date when Natale will join the company.
Telus said last year Natale would have an 18-month non-compete
agreement from the end of 2015.
"The timing is never perfect with these things," Horn said
on a conference call, focusing on the opportunity to secure
Natale's services when asked to explain the CEO transition.
Rogers shares, which gained roughly 15 percent over
Laurence's tenure, rose 1.8 percent to C$55.30.
Laurence was widely viewed as a turnaround expert when he
was brought in by the company, controlled by Toronto's Rogers
The chief executive shied away from discounts to woo
subscribers, instead focusing on improved product offerings and
better customer service. The rate at which its wireless
customers leave has dropped for the last four quarters.
"It's a strange situation," said Ryan Bushell, a portfolio
manager with Leon Frazer and Associates, which has around 2.5
percent of its C$1 billion ($752 million) portfolio invested in
"It would be very short-sighted to me if they were impatient
with the turnaround he had in progress," he said.
But Bushell noted Laurence took steps to reshape the
corporate culture that may have rankled some in the
Laurence could not immediately be reached for comment.
Edward Rogers, the company's deputy chairman, thanked
Laurence for "his competitive spirit and many contributions" in
RESULTS HIT BY SHOMI SHUTDOWN
In a earnings statement moved up from its scheduled Thursday
release, Rogers said its net income fell to C$220 million ($166
million), or 43 Canadian cents per share, in the third quarter,
from C$660 million, or 90 Canadian cents per share, a year
It recognized a C$140 million loss on shutting down the
streaming television joint venture Shomi.
On an adjusted basis it earned 83 Canadian cents a year.
Analysts had expected 88 cents per share according to Thomson
Laurence's severance payment was not included in the third
quarter numbers, the company said.
($1 = 1.3290 Canadian dollars)
(With additional reporting by Anet Josline Pinto in Bengaluru;
Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)