Sunday, November 27, 2011

Teachers Pension Plan Cancels Sale of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Bell and Rogers Dispute Over Media Rights. Leafs, Raptors, Marlies, and the FC are Cash Cows for Fund.

The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan has called off its sale of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE). The asset has been a cash cow for the Teachers and after elongated talks with Bell and Rogers broke down, the Pension Plan has decided it is in its best interests to maintain its majority stake.

MLSE currently owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Marlies, the Toronto FC, and the Air Canada Centre. With the Leafs alone valued at over $500 million, the Teachers were hoping to fetch somewhere between $1.4 and $1.8 billion for their 80% stake in the regional sports powerhouse.

Why the talks to sell the company broke down is uncertain. Some say that Bell and Rogers could not agree on the media rights for the company, but others say that the price the Teachers wanted was simply too high. MLSE, however, it reported to generate approximately $650 million in revenue annually, making it a substantial enterprise for the pension fund, which will need more and more cash as aging teachers start collecting their benefits.

Potentially, the Teachers will probably keep their search for a buyer below the radar for awhile, until the plan needs to liquidate some holdings in the future to pay more retirees. So MLSE is off the block for now, but undoubtedly its sale will resurface as a news item again soon.

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