Michael Webber, the longtime Vice-President of Legal for Rogers Communications, passed away on Feb. 26 after a battle with brain cancer. He was 51.
Webber is best known as the legal architect behind several key deals including Rogers’ 12-year, $5.2-billion licensing deal with the National Hockey League (NHL) in 2013 – the largest media rights deal in NHL history – encompassing broadcast rights across all technology platforms and languages. At the time, the precedent-setting agreement was called “transformational” by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
Webber also helmed the 2012 Bell and Rogers joint ownership arrangement to purchase a 75 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) from the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, and Rogers acquisition of Score Media Inc. for $167 million that same year.
He was named Dealmaker of the Year in 2014 at the Canadian General Counsel Awards.
A graduate of St. Andrew’s College, Queen’s University and Western, where he finished his law degree in 1993, Webber joined Rogers in April 2001 as an in-house lawyer after leaving corporate law firm Blakes, Cassels and Graydon.
Webber was the first associate assigned to the growing Rogers Media division, managing the legal affairs of the company’s radio, television, and digital assets, in addition to publishing and sports entertainment.
“I never thought I would end up in a place where I could be involved in NHL acquisitions or managing legal issues for the Toronto Blue Jays,” Webber told the Western Law Alumni Magazine in 2014.