RBC appoints BCE as head of the board, expanding executives’ website linking Canada’s banking and telecommunications

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A person walks past the Royal Bank of Canada building on Bay Street during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan DenetteNathan Denette/The Canadian Press

BCE Inc. CEO Mirko Bibic joins Royal Bank of Canada’s Board of Directors, expanding the powerful network of bankers and executives that straddle two of Canada’s largest industries.

Mr. Bibic, former corporate lawyer, will join RBC’s board of directors on August 1 and will serve on the bank’s risk and governance committees, RBC announced on Wednesday. Mr. Bibic has served as CEO of BCE, the parent company of Bell Canada, since January 2020.

He is also a director of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and the Business Council of Canada.

This appointment brings two of Canada’s largest companies, which are already closely linked, even closer together. Former RBC chief executive Gord Nixon chairs BCE’s board, and former RBC executive Jennifer Tory is also a BCE director. She joined BCE’s Board of Directors in April 2021.

The country’s three telecom giants are major banks’ main customers for loans and other financing agreements, while the asset management arms of banks are major investors in telecommunications companies. RBC subsidiaries were among BCE’s largest shareholders, according to company filings.

At the same time, banks rely on wired and wireless networks to support digital banking transactions and functions, as was evident when Rogers Communications Inc. suffered an all-day outage last week.

Over the years, board governance experts and investors have placed more emphasis on truly independent directors, which has forced major changes, such as the separation of the roles of board chair and chief of management.

Yet it is still common for current and former senior executives in banking and telecommunications to cross over and become a director positions in companies with which they have close business relationships.

Mr. Bibic’s predecessor at BCE, George Cope, is now Chairman of the Board of Bank of Montreal. Another major telecommunications company, Telus Corp., has two prominent bankers among its directors: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CEO Victor Dodig and former BMO chief financial officer Tom Flynn.

John Manley, former CIBC employee Chairman, also sits on the board of directors of Telus, and Martine Turcotte, a former longtime executive of BCE, sits on the board of directors of CIBC.

Nadir Mohammed, former CEO of Rogers Communications Inc., has been a director of The Toronto-Dominion Bank since 2008.

By joining RBC as a director, Mr. Bibic “brings deep experience in strategy, operations, governance and risk across a wide range of commercial and consumer portfolios in the communications sector,” said Kathleen Taylor, chair of RBC’s board of directors, in a statement.

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