TORONTO (Reuters) - Ted Rogers, who transformed a single Toronto FM radio station into a North American broadcasting, publishing and telecoms conglomerate, has died, Rogers Communications said on Tuesday. He was 75.
The company said it planned to form a special committee to select the next chief executive and would consider internal and external candidates.
Among those who analysts believe will be considered are Edward Rogers, currently the head of the company's cable operations, and Melinda Rogers, the senior vice-president of strategy and development.
Also touted for the corner office is Nadir Mohamed, the chief operating officer.
"I tend to lean toward Nadir," independent technology analyst Carmi Levy said of a potential successor. "He has been more integral to the operations of the company than anyone up until now."
Rogers, who was hospitalized in late October for an existing heart condition, died at his home in Toronto.
While a successor is being chosen, Alan Horn, who assumed the role of CEO when Rogers was admitted to hospital, will remain in that position.
"Though Ted was relentless in business and building this company over the years, he was also very much a family man. His impact on family, community and country was as impressive as his business success," Phil Lind, Rogers' vice-chairman, who worked with the founder for almost 40 years, said in a statement.
He was a highly regarded businessman, even by some of his fiercest rivals, and is seen as a radio and wireless telephone pioneer. He started his company in 1960 with an C$85,000 loan.
Today, Rogers Communications' owns Canada's biggest mobile phone service provider, one of the country's biggest cable companies, a portfolio of magazines, radio stations and trade journals, and Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays.
"He defined what cable television was in Canada for an entire generation of Canadians and then he went well beyond it by creating a dominant, full-line telecommunications giant," Levy said.
"His passing leaves a huge vacuum to fill."
A prominent philanthropist, Rogers was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1990. In 1994, he was inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.
Rogers' media business counts the likes of Canwest Global Communications Corp, Quebecor Inc's Videotron unit and privately held CTVglobemedia among its rivals.
"Ted Rogers was one of the greatest entrepreneurs and builders our country has ever seen," CTVglobemedia Chief Executive Ivan Fecan said in a statement. "I admired him enormously. For us at CTVglobemedia, he was both a wonderful partner and very tough competitor."
Videotron also honored Rogers' passing on Tuesday, with CEO Robert Depatie referring to him as a "top-flight entrepreneur" and "an unparalleled leader."
Rogers Communications shares were down 21 Canadian cents at C$34.31 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Rob Wilson