BCE Bell Canada and Rogers Communications joined forces to make a $1.2-billion bid for 80 percent stake in Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, the two company announce in a joint press release. Rogers and Bell are leading Canadian telecommunications companies, while the target company is Canada’s largest sports conglomerate, in which the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan holds a majority stake.
The company’s assets include the richest hockey club in the world, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Raptors basketball team, Major League Soccer’s Toronto team, the Marlies who play in the American Hockey League. In addition, the company owns the Air Canada Centre, two specialty television channels, and a condominium development adjacent to the arena.
The 80-percent stake would be split equally between the two bidders, with each of them purchasing 37.5 percent of M.L.S.E. The Ontario Teachers held an auction for M.L.S.E. but no deal was finalized for long time because no bidder was able to meet Ontario Teachers’ target price. Ontario Teachers accepted a deal only after the joint bid of BCE Bell Canada and Rogers valued the company at nearly $1.7 billion.
The deal, however, will be scrutinized by Canadian anti-trust authorities and a final approval is not expected before next summer.
The Maple Leafs is the most valuable asset of M.L.S.E., with Forbes valuing the team at $521 million on revenues worth $193 million and operating income of $81.8 million. Its valuation rose by 3 percent year over year, making by far the most valuable team in the N.H.L.