Rogers Communications Case Study
Based on the content provided on the previous pages about Rogers Communication, answer the following questions. Include the question with your answer below in your submitted assignment.
- How important is vision in business? Explain the role of vision in the case of Rogers Communication.
- Using examples from the case study, describe how Rogers Communication has remained current and up to date with the latest technology.
- Research the background to “the most expensive mistake” Rogers ever made. Provide a brief (1-2 paragraphs) description of the details of that business venture.
- What’s a hostile takeover? What factors determine why and how a hostile takeover is the appropriate strategy for business growth?
- Rogers has, for the most part, remained a Canadian company. Based on research, explain why you think it has chosen to maintain a more national presence and not expand into the international market.
- Rogers Communication is a domestic company. Sometimes in this global world we think domestic companies are less successful, ingenious, or exciting than multinationals. Has this case study of Rogers Communication changed your opinion of that widely held perception?
- Based on the history of the company and the content you have reviewed so far in this course about the future of technological trends and the economy, what areas or industries do you think Rogers will expand into next to stay relevant and competitive? What would you recommend to the leaders of this organization to consider for future business operations and expansion?
- Rogers Communications GrowthTed Rogers pioneered cable television in the 1960s and 1970s with superior picture quality, more channels through converters and community and multicultural programming. (Innovation continues today with Rogers cable a North American leader in the development and deployment of high-speed Internet service as well as digital television, video-on-demand and cable telephone.)
In 1979, Rogers became Canada’s largest cable company by taking over the much larger Canadian Cablesystems Ltd. and in 1980 purchased Premier Cablesystems in Vancouver to consolidate its cable presence. In the early 1980s, Rogers moved into the U.S. cable market and proved to be a leader among U.S. cable company peers. Rogers recorded a $1-billion profit when the company sold its U.S. assets in 1989.
Ted Rogers Founder and CEO
To fund his expansion and innovation strategy, Rogers met in Beverly Hills with Michael Milken at Drexel, Burnham Lambert Inc. in 1983 and pioneered the high-interest corporate bond market in Canada.
Colloquially known as “junk bonds”, this financing tool was bitter-sweet for Mr. Rogers. He despised the “junk” connotation and its implications on his company. In his later years, Mr. Rogers strived for an “investment grade” rating for his company, which he achieved. But there is little doubt many of the company’s achievements would not have been possible without the high-interest corporate bonds.
Besides growing cable assets on both sides of the border, Rogers entered the wireless phone market in 1985 with partners Marc Belzberg and Philippe de Gaspé Beaubien to launch Cantel.
Unlike television, where the trend was from over-the-air to wired reception, Mr. Rogers envisioned that telephones were the exact opposite because of changing lifestyles.
Today that company, now called Rogers Wireless, is the largest – and fastest growing – wireless service provider in Canada, available to 93% of Canadians, with more than 7 million subscribers from coast-to-coast.
In 1989, Rogers Communications jumped into the long distance business by purchasing 40 per cent of CN/CP Telecommunications (later Unitel). Things started out favourably with the 1992 Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decision to open up the market that for a century had been a monopoly held by incumbent phone companies like Bell Canada.
But in the end, it was the most expensive mistake that Rogers made. When Rogers Communications exited Unitel in 1995, it had taken a $500-million loss. Fortunately, the company was big enough to absorb the loss without the company going under.
Within five years, Rogers got all the lost Unitel money back and $1 billion more by building up a new venture – Rogers Network Services – and selling it to AT&T Canada, which had taken over Unitel.
At age 60, Ted Rogers attempted his boldest move to date: a hostile takeover of Maclean-Hunter Ltd. In 1994, it was the largest takeover in Canadian communications industry history to that point. In the end, Rogers won the battle for the former “widows and orphan” conglomerate of cable, broadcast and publishing assets for $3.1 billion.
“Ted doesn’t have a business life and a personal life – it’s all one – he works 18 hours a day every day,” Phil Lind said. “When we did the takeover of Maclean Hunter in 1994, we couldn’t sit and enjoy it for a day. Ted doesn’t rejoice in any conquest because he’s always thinking – where will it lead? What’s next? He knows events will overtake him if he doesn’t overtake events.”
This work ethic was legendary. He expected his management team to work just like he did. His personality and work ethic instilled tremendous loyalty. Mr. Rogers could take a joke, and there are many cases where he could give as good as he got. One example involved fellow cable operator Jim Shaw in Calgary. The companies had a friendly competition on who could sign up the most Internet customers with the loser buying the winner a steak dinner. Upon losing, Mr. Rogers sent Mr. Shaw a live 1200 pound steer to his home with a sign on its back “As requested, a big STEAK”.
By the mid-1990s, potentially the greatest threat to Rogers’ cable assets arrived on the scene – the so-called “Death Stars” or direct-to-home satellite receivers that were small enough to fit almost anywhere and offered digital picture quality. Amazingly, instead of hunkering down into a bunker mentality, Mr. Rogers continued his “damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead” business approach.
During these turbulent times, the company made a misstep with the “negative option”. This sales process required customers to alert the cable company if they did not want new services, instead of putting the onus on the provider to “sell” the new services. The practice was commonly used in many industries, but this time it created a major consumer backlash.
Rogers quickly reversed course within days of the outcry, but the public relations damage was done.
The late 90s were difficult years for Rogers Communications with the stock hitting an all-time low of $4.80 in 1998 and a debt that was worrying Bay St. But, ever the optimist, Ted Rogers persevered; promising customers and investors new and exciting services. (Mr. Rogers ended every public speech with “The Best is Yet to Come.”)
But, he didn’t disappoint: High-speed Internet connections to the home; digital television; text-messaging, email and ring tones for mobile phones; and more all quickly arrived on the scene for Rogers customers.
Immediately into the new century, Rogers Communications was back in acquisition mode and in 2000 bought the Toronto Blue Jays, ostensibly with the break-up fee paid to Rogers Communications for the failed friendly takeover bid of Quebec’s cable giant Videotron.
Then in 2004, Telus Corp. attempted a hostile bid for Microcell Communications and its Fido brand of wireless phones. This was a company long in the sights of Rogers Communications who believed Fido a perfect fit for Rogers Wireless because of similar corporate cultures and they were the only two wireless companies in Canada using the international-standard GSM technology.
The problem was that Rogers Wireless partner AT&T Corp. was blocking Rogers from riding in as Fido’s White Knight. So, Rogers bought out AT&T for $1.8 billion and then paid $1.6 billion for Microcell Communications.
In 2005, Rogers Cable acquired Call-Net and began offering local telephone service. The following year, in addition to a portable Internet service for wireless access, Rogers also launched “Hello!” magazine. Five City-TV stations were acquired in 2007. After Ted Rogers’ passing in 2008, Alan Horn became the CEO. In 2009, Nadir Mohamed was named President and CEO. He has since announced his plan to step down in 2014.