Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors
sold to Rogers and BCE
Two telecommunications giants will soon control the Toronto Maple Leafs, the biggest prize in Canadian sport.
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan will announce Friday that it has reached a draft agreement to sell its 79.53 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, owners of the iconic Leafs, to Rogers Communications and BCE for more than $1.2 billion.
The companies have scheduled a morning news conference at the Air Canada Centre, the downtown home of the Leafs, to confirm the blockbuster deal.
Reports surfaced two weeks ago that Rogers and BCE had been working on an alliance to share control of MLSE, which also owns other sports properties and lucrative broadcast interests.
At that time, Teachers, one of the country's biggest pension plans with assets of more than $107.5 billion, indicated it was pulling its stake off the market after an extensive search that formally started earlier this year. Teachers' noted that several parties had made offers.
The Star reported a year ago that Teachers had been quietly talking to possible suitors including Rogers about selling its stake. Teachers' played down the story but four months later announced that it would formally explore a sale.
MLSE also owns the Raptors
of the NBA, Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, the Marlies of the American Hockey League, the Air Canada Centre,two speciality television channels and Maple Leaf Square, a condominium development adjacent to the arena.
Friday's agreement contemplates that Larry Tannenbaum whose firm Kilmer Sports own the reamining 21.47 of MLSE will stay as a shareholder and chairman of the company. He may also increase his stake or get some cash as part of the deal, according to reports.
There were provisions in the existing shareholders agreement that gave Tannenbaum key rights that would make it difficult for any owner with telecommunications properties to take advantage of MLSE's rich broadcast assets without his approval.[/quote]