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Report: Ontario Teachers Pension Plan Looking To Sell MLSE Stake

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According to Jean-Sébastien Gagnon of La Presse the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan has hired Morgan Stanley to find potential buyers for their 66% share of Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment. You can read the translated story thanks to the magic of the Toronto Sun's translation department. Larry Tanenbaum, who has long wanted to be the sole owner of MLSE, currently owns 20.5% of the corporation but has the right of first refusal on the OTPP's 66% as well as on TD Capital's 13%. Therefore, Gagnon speculates that part of the reasoning behind hiring Morgan Stanley is so that once they identify the highest bidder they will present that price tag to Larry Tanenbaum who can then match it or miss what will likely be his only opportunity to fulfill his life's dream. Current estimates place the value of their holdings at between $1.3 and $1.5 billion.

The rumoured buyer in December was Rogers which would have been a landscape shaping move in Canada and for the NHL. It would give Rogers ownership of every major professional sports team in Toronto, LeafsTV, Raptors TV, GolTV, would likely knock CBC out of the hockey business, and would go toe-to-toe with TSN on the television side to go along with the nascent sports radio wars. It remains to be seen whether the Rogers connection has any substance to it beyond just the fact that it would make a tonne of sense. Hiring Morgan Stanley probably indicates that it will be a global search for a possible buyer. Of late, the sovereing wealth funds in the Middle East have been heavy investors in professional sports so it would be interesting to see if they are ready to cross the pond. As with a replacement for Richard Peddie, this is a process that will most likely be heavily drawn out.