Rogers CEO says carrier is ‘working through’ joint bid for Cogeco

Natale outlined that the bid is about building out innovation and infrastructure

Rogers CEO Joe Natale says that the carrier is being patient and working through its joint bid with Altice USA to acquire Cogeco.

Natale was asked about the bid during BMO’s 21st Annual Media and Telecom Conference taking place virtually on September 15th. He noted that the timing of the bid was driven by investments.

“The bid is really about answering some basic questions as we look at our investment plans in infrastructure, networks and digital capability. We’re looking at what we’re doing in every province across the country,” Natale outlined.

“The relevancy here is: what are our plans in Quebec? What are our plans in the parts of Ontario where Cogeco operates. That may sound extreme, but that’s just because we’re at a critical juncture in the history of our industry.”

Natale outlined that the bid is about a partnership with Ontario and Quebec and looking to build out and grow innovation and communications infrastructure.

He stated that as the company makes its capital plans for the medium and long term, it’s asking whether Rogers’ future plans include Cogeco territory. He noted that this question is 20 years in the making, and outlined that Rogers is the largest long-term shareholder of Cogeco.

Natale stated that Rogers would not share its deal strategy or approach any further, but said that the company is patient.

“We’re patient, we’re working our way through this. This is a marathon, not a sprint as you’ve heard from our partners at Altice say,” he said.

Altice USA, an American cable company, tabled a $10.3 billion CAD bid for Cogeco earlier this month. Altice had reached an agreement with Rogers to sell Cogeco’s Canadian assets for $4.9 billion to the carrier if the acquisition was successful.

Cogeco’s major investor, the Audet family, has reiterated that it’s not interested in the “unsolicited” acquisition proposal and has outlined that its shares are not for sale.

“I want to provide absolute clarity for stakeholders regarding our intentions in response to the recent unsolicited proposal to acquire Cogeco. Our shares are not for sale. And let me be clear, our refusal is not a negotiating position, it is definitive,” the family wrote in recent statement.