Tag:Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan
Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:43 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 10:12 am

Rogers, Bell join to buy majority shares of MLSE

By Brian Stubits

Remember when the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan wasn't going to sell Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment? You know, like two weeks ago?

How quickly things change.

On Friday morning, MLSE (owners of the Maple Leafs, the AHL's Marlies, NBA's Raptors and MLS' Toronto FC) held a news conference to announce the purchase of the company by a joint group of two Canadian media conglomerates, Bell Media and Rogers Communications.

The price of the purchase for the OTPP's 79.5 percent ownership stake is 1.32 Billion -- that's with a B. As part of the purchase, the only minority owner, Larry Tanenbaum, sees his stake rise from 20.5 percent to 25 percent. He had the right of first refusal on a new owner. He will remain the company's CEO.

It's also of note that Rogers already owns baseball's Blue Jays, so with them coming aboard, Rogers now has a hand in all of Toronto's big professional sports teams. Bell, meanwhile, currently owns an 18 percent minority stake in the Montreal Canadiens and announced they aren't looking to sell that share. Let the conspiracy theories begin.

This brings up some really interesting dynamics between two competing companies owning one team. Rogers, which owns Sportsnet, and Bell, owner of TSN. It's certainly a unique agreement to bring together people trying to beat each other out.

"We're all about winning, we're all about championships," Nadir Mohamed of Rogers said when explaining how the two competitors will work together.

That divide was already on display -- somewhat jokingly, mind you -- when Mohamed said it was his goal for Rogers to be the No. 1 company in Canadian media.

So when the Leafs make a move, which network gets the news first? Do they make joint announcements?

There's a lot of fun to have out of this purchase, but we'd be remiss if we didn't point out the delicious irony that Leafs GM Brian Burke and Leafs coach Ron Wilson now work for two media companies just a short while after they were in a spat with local media (when aren't they?), with Burke saying people who work in the media or liars.

The comedy continued in the press conference when they continued to refer to the Raptors as an iconic franchise. We kid, Eye On Basketball, but only because we care.

OTPP has held the primary ownership stake in MLSE since 2004, but has held some stake in the company since 1994.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:50 am
Edited on: December 9, 2011 1:02 am

Reports: Rogers, Bell on verge of buying MLSE

By Brian Stubits

After speculation began picking up that the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan would sell their 79.5 percent share of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment, the OTPP shut it down. They announced that they were no longer looking to sell their share of the company. So you thought that was it and the Leafs would go on with a faceless owner, right?

Not exactly.

The Toronto Sun was first to report and all the major outlets in Toronto followed that the OTPP is on the verge of selling their majority stake to a combined group of Bell Media and Rogers Communications. The reports make it sound like the deal is all but done and an announcement could come soon.

There are still a few hurdles left to climb, however. From Lance Hornby at the Sun:

An announcement could come as early as Friday, but there are many moving pieces that could delay the final sale until closer to Christmas. MLSE runs the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, the Air Canada Centre and has high profile real estate holdings. They also own LeafsTV, as well as basketball and soccer television holdings. Rogers, meanwhile, owns the Toronto Blue Jays, making the baseball team an obvious addition to the new combined network.

Of course, 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 proposed sale, which supposedly has the approval of minority owner Larry Tanenbaum -- who has a right to first refusal -- is estimated to be worth $1.33 billion. Remember, MLSE includes not only the Leafs, but the AHL's Marlies, MLS' Toronto FC and NBA's Raptors.

Baseball's Blue Jays could soon be linked with the rest. Rogers already owns the MLB team in town, so pretty soon Rogers could have its hands on every big sports franchise in the city.

Adding intrigue to the situation is that Rogers and Bell are competitors. Rogers owns Sportsnet and Bell is the owner of TSN, the two big sports networks in Canada. It would be like Burger King and McDonald's joining forces to buy a sports franchise. Or maybe more aptly, ESPN and Fox Sports.

Steve Simmons, also from the Sun, reported that there could be a unified face for the group in the form of John Tory, the former commissioner of the CFL. He would appear to be the most likely person to replace Richard Peddie as CEO.

So why would these two competitors decide to come together? Both want to get their hands on the broadcasting rights for the teams involved, most specifically the Leafs but the Raptors as well. It could make for some interesting board meetings.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com