December 08, 2011
In late November, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan announced it had decided to "maintain" its stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, claiming it "has been and continues to be a very successful investment."
Apparently, they've been given over a billion reasons to change their stance.
The Toronto Sun was first with the news that the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan is closing in on a deal with telecommunications giants Bell Media and Rogers Communications, selling their 79.5-percent stake for upwards of $2 billion.
The Globe & Mail put the deal at "more than $1.3-billion."
Any purchase of the Leafs and the Raptors would have to be approved by the NHL and NBA, respectively. Bell also owns 18% of the Montreal Canadiens with naming rights to its arena. But an NHL executive indicated Thursday night that the league is aware there is an imminent change in the Toronto ownership situation. One of the matters to be settled is Bell's 18% interest in the Montreal Canadiens, which must be divested at some point under NHL rules.
The deal has not been finalized and still may fall apart, but the companies were in talks late Thursday night, and sources close to the situation said most of the key details had been worked out.
In particular, Rogers and BCE have won the support of minority owner Larry Tanenbaum, who owns 20 per cent of MLSE and has right of first refusal on any offer. His support clears a major hurdle for any dea
The mind boggles at how these two companies will coexist as co-owners of this empire. They work together for the Olympics, sure; but this is a whole different bag of pucks. How will Leafs TV work? Will fees increase? How will the radio rights play out with two warring radio stations in Toronto?
(From a journalistic point of view, the No. 1 and No. 2 sports media giants in Canada would be co-owners of the hockey team that generates the most ink. Now how does this play out?) Check out this CTV roundtable for more on media ownership of MLSE, from back when Rogers was sniffing around the deal solo.
Leafs fans: Happy or depressed about this potential development? After all, you'd be going from a faceless collection of owners to … a faceless collection of owners with really, really sweet flat-screens and smartphones.