Bell, Rogers buy into Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment
Bell and Rogers Communications have jointly purchased a 75% ownership stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment from Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. Bell's net cash commitment, following a planned leveraged recapitalization, will total $398 million, representing a 28% equity interest in the company. Rogers' commitment will total approximately $533 million, representing a 37.5% percent interest. In a concurrent transaction, Kilmer Sports will increase its ownership interest from 20.5% to 25%. Kilmer Sports owner Larry Tanenbaum will remain chair of Maple Leaf Sports. The transactions are expected to close in mid-2012 following regulatory and league approvals. According to the companies, the acquisition secures long-term access to television, mobile, digital online and radio broadcast rights for Bell and Rogers to professional sports events in Toronto. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment owns sports teams the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Marlies and Toronto FC, as well as real estate holdings Air Canada Centre and Maple Leaf Square, and three digital television channels: Leafs TV, NBA TV Canada and GOLTV Canada. Maple Leaf also operates and manages events at Ricoh Coliseum and BMO Field. "Bell's ownership in MLSE supports our promise to deliver the best content to Canadians across every screen," said George Cope, president and CEO of Bell Canada and BCE. "With our advanced broadband network investments, next generation Bell TV, Mobility and Internet services, and leading sports networks TSN and RDS, the Bell team looks forward to bringing the Leafs, the Raptors, the Marlies and Toronto FC to fans in new and innovative ways." According to Nadir Mohamed, president and CEO of Rogers Communications, "This investment fits squarely into our strategy of securing premium content and making it accessible to Canadians when, where and how they want it."