TORONTO – The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan is throwing cold water on reports it’s looking to sell its share in the company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and other sports teams.
Reports surfaced this week that Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) was trying to buy the fund’s 66 per cent share of the sports corporation that owns the NHL and NBA teams.
But the pension fund issued a statement Friday saying it is not in negotiations to sell its take of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
Rogers already owns the Blue Jays, Sportsnet cable channel and Fan 590, an all-sports AM radio station.
It issued a statement earlier this week saying it’s always in discussions with companies to enhance the sports content it offers.
But Rogers said there’s no change to the current relationship with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and wouldn’t comment on the reports.
When the reports surfaced Wednesday, the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan wouldn’t confirm or deny them, but the continuing speculation made it important to clarify the situation, president and CEO Jim Leech said in Friday’s statement.
“I feel it’s important to state that we are not now, nor have we ever been anxious to sell our investment in MLSE,” he said.
“Teachers’ has never had a firm offer to sell our investment.”
Kilmer Sports, which is controlled by Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum, holds about 20.5 per cent of MLSE. TD Capital holds the remaining 13.5 per cent.
MLSE also owns the Toronto FC soccer franchise and the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
The speculation fuelled concerns that a sale to Rogers would give the communications giant a stranglehold over Canada’s most lucrative sports franchises.
The owner of the teams would have control over everything from from live games broadcasts to Internet streaming to email team alerts and mobile applications.