The Maple Leafs team is one of professional hockey’s most legendary and valuable franchises, having won 11 Stanley Cup hockey championships. It hasn’t, however, won a NHL championship since 1967, the longest drought of any team in the league.
Ontario Teachers is reportedly seeking between C$1.3 billion and C$1.5 billion ($1.33 billion to $1.54 billion). Such a price would make the sale the largest in Canadian sports history. A spokesman for the pension fund declined to comment.
As recently as December, Ontario Teachers was disavowing any interest in selling MLSE. During the last several weeks, the pension fund was privately approached by several potential buyers, according to the Globe and Mail. Because of this interest from potential buyers, the pension decided to hire Morgan Stanley to help with the bidding process. It put out a press release on Saturday.
The remaining stakes in MLSE are owned by construction mogul Larry Tanenbaum, with 20.5 percent, and TD Capital, with 13.5 percent. Both Tanenbaum and TD Capital have a right of first refusal to buy a defined portion of Ontario Teachers’s stake.
Among possible outside buyers, reports mentioned cable and wireless provider, Rogers Communications, which owns the Toronto Blue Jays and Sportsnet, a Canadian sports channel.
As Canada’s third-largest pension fund, Ontario Teachers has more than $100 billion in assets and covers more than 295,000 teachers and retirees, according to the press release.
Canada’s do-it-yourself pension plans have tended to make their own direct investments in private firms like MLSE, bypassing the expense and fees (and possibly missing out on the expertise) of private equity firms. Most pension funds in the United States, by contrast, invest in private companies almost exclusively through private equity firms.