It was just a report last night, but today the Maple Leafs have been sold.
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund have sold their majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment to Rogers Sportsnet and Bell Canada for a whopping $1.3 billion. The partnership is an awkward one as Bell and Rogers are competitors in communications. Bell also owns a small part of the Montreal Canadiens on top of it all. No, they won’t be forced to divest their interest there. That should make Habs-Leafs games a bit more fun.
How this affects the future of the Leafs (as well as MLSE’s other sports interests) will be curious. Will Bell and Rogers amp up their interest in running the Leafs to try and generate more money for the team by taking a keener interest in how they do? Will the new owners treat the Leafs as a cash cow that effortlessly makes money for them?
After the executive board room way of life the Ontario Teachers seemed to do things, seeing a two-headed monster with a direct interest in how well the Leafs perform will be fascinating to watch.
It was only two weeks ago when the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan said they weren’t going to sell their controlling interest in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE). It’s amazing what (as much as) $2 billion can do to change people’s minds.
Telecommunication rivals Bell Media and Rogers Communications are pooling their assets to purchase the 79.5% of MLSE shares that are owned by the Pension Plan. The $2 billion would include the Toronto Maple Leafs, Leafs TV, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, the Air Canada Centre, and various real estate holdings.
Two billion dollars doesn’t goes as far as it used to.
QMI Agency is reporting that the deal could be completed as early as Friday; but more likely, the deal will be completed sometime before Christmas.
It’s noteworthy that Bell and Rogers are buying the Maple Leafs in the midst of their best start in awhile. The team hasn’t made the playoffs in six seasons, but they’re currently only two points behind the Boston Bruins for first place in the Northeast Division. The team is as desirable as they’ve been in years. What will they be able to do when they have ownership that is desperate for ratings?
Either way, let’s be real: the Maple Leafs could win five games per season and still make money. Now if we could get Bell or Rogers to buy the Phoenix Coyotes, all the ownership problems in the NHL would be cured.
Remember when the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund was set to sell off their 79.5% stake in the Toronto Maple Leafs? You can forget all about that now, they’re hanging on to what they’ve got.
Tara Perkins of The Globe And Mail out of Toronto reports that the Teachers’ Fund isn’t going to sell off their stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment after doing months of research as to whether or not they should. As it turns out, selling something that works as a virtual license to print money in Canada isn’t the best business decision around.
All this means now is that status quo exists in Toronto and there’s no reason to think anything is going to change at the executive level with the Leafs. This might prove disappointing to anyone hoping to see a huge ownership change-borne shakeup with one of the NHL’s cornerstone franchises.
Of course, if you’re looking to keep up with potential executive level fun like that, we suggest following the Coyotes saga or what’s going on in New Jersey to fulfill your corporate raider needs.
There were quite a few eyebrows raised when the Toronto Sun cited anonymous sources who claimed that media company Rogers would attempt to acquire the Toronto Maple Leafs (along with other Toronto entities, including the NBA’s Raptors) in a $1.3 billion mega deal.
Well, at least one group of people are shooting down the rumors: the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, a group with a substantial ownership stake in the Maple Leafs and Raptors franchises.
The Associated Press reports that Jim Leech, President and CEO of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, said that they never received a “firm offer” for the team, which is an interesting turn of phrase that could mean plenty of things. It could be a sign that these are unfounded rumors just as easily as it could mean that they are simply being coy about very real discussions.
So does this mean the Leafs won’t be sold? Not necessarily. We’ll keep an eye on this situation to see if it develops.