Rogers Hits Back at Ex-CEO Natale, Says He Breached Contract

Rogers Communications Inc. denied that it owes money to its former chief executive officer and accused him of breaking his contract.

(Bloomberg) — Rogers Communications Inc. denied that it owes money to its former chief executive officer and accused him of breaking his contract. 

Joe Natale breached his fiduciary duty to the telecommunications firm and “improperly received” more than C$15 million ($11 million) after negotiating a richer severance package that he wasn’t entitled to, the company said in a court filing.  

In a lawsuit last month, Natale alleged that the Toronto-based company, which dismissed him as CEO in 2021, still owes him more than C$24 million.

Natale, on learning that September that he was about to be ousted, “sought support to significantly enhance his own employment arrangements” and force out Chief Financial Officer Tony Staffieri, who was in line to replace him, Rogers said in a statement of defense and countersuit. 

Natale also sweetened the pay agreements of three senior Rogers executives without authority and hid the decision from key board members, the company alleges. Those three executives later renounced any entitlements under the revised deals, the filing said. 

Bill Walker, an outside spokesperson representing Natale, said by email: “Mr. Natale denies all of the allegations in RCI’s counterclaim, which is completely without merit. He is confident that the courts will see this tactic for what it is: a transparent attempt to avoid contractual liability and to further disparage Mr. Natale’s excellent reputation.”

The legal spat stems from a dispute that erupted among members of the Rogers clan, which controls Canada’s largest wireless and cable provider. It exposed fissures within one of the country’s wealthiest families, which also owns television and radio stations, Canada’s only Major League Baseball team and a major stake in Toronto’s pro hockey and basketball clubs. 

Natale was in charge when Rogers made a C$20 billion offer to acquire rival Shaw Communications Inc. in March 2021, but months later Chairman Edward Rogers soured on the CEO and made a play to get rid of him. Edward’s mother, Loretta Rogers, and two of his sisters, Melinda Rogers-Hixon and Martha Rogers, fought back on Natale’s behalf, in alliance with several other board members. 

Edward Rogers sued to establish control over the board, drop five independent directors and replace them with his allies. 

As part of Tuesday’s legal filing, the company alleges that Natale stalled a request by Edward Rogers for a copy of the shareholder list, which he wanted in preparation for his legal battle to replace board members. “There was no justification for the 16-day delay, other than Natale’s desire to unlawfully enhance his compensation before allowing their release,” the company claims.

Edward Rogers prevailed in court in November 2021 and Natale was gone less than two weeks later, replaced by Staffieri.

Read More: Rogers Family Accused of Using ‘Succession’ Star to Smear Ex-CEO

(Updates with additional information from court filing and response from Joe Natale)

More stories like this are available on

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.