Teachers’ in talks to buy TD’s stake in Maple Leaf Sports

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is raising its stake in the company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs in a move that could make it easier for the pension fund to sell its holding in one of Canada’s most valuable sports properties.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is raising its stake in the company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs in a move that could make it easier for the pension fund to sell its holding in one of Canada’s most valuable sports properties.

The fund said Tuesday it’s in advanced talks with TD Capital Group to buy its stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which also owns the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, the Air Canada Centre and other sports teams and assets.

Teachers, which has long controlled Maple Leaf Sports, said it has reached an understanding on the principal financial terms with TD Capital (TSX:TD), but did not say what they were.

Teachers’ has been exploring “strategic alternatives” regarding its ownership in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment including a possible sale of the company.

With a liability of billions of dollars on its books for f future pension benefits it must pay to retired Ontario teachers, the pension fund faces tough choices as it tries to maximize the value of its investments so its finances are sound.

It’s estimated the sports team operator could be worth between $1.5 billion to $2 billion since the Leafs are a lucrative money maker in what has long been one of the best hockey markets in the world.

Teachers paid $180 million in 1994 to buy into what became Maple Leaf Sports and holds 66 per cent of the company. TD owns just under 13.5 per cent.

Teachers’ president and chief executive Jim Leech said the TD agreement would streamline the sales process.

The deal would consolidate ownership of the MLSE the hands of two owners: Teachers’ and Kilmer Sports, which is controlled by Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum.

“Last year a number of people whispered interesting numbers in our ear and so we decided to put a process in place,” Leech said at the Bloomberg Economic Summit in Toronto.

“So well see if those numbers turn into reality and if they don’t its business as usual. Its a great asset. ”

Leech said enhancing the pension fund’s stake “reduces a number of variables” in the potential sale process, making it easier to attract buyers.

He said the fund is hoping to reach a decision on the sale by the summer. However, Leech declined to elaborate on who potential buyers might be or how much they might pay.

He said the decision on whether to sell will come down to the math.

TD said it has been a financial investor in MLSE.

“As with any financial investment, we are prepared to exit at the right time and on the right terms,” the bank said in a statement.

“We believe this proposed transaction affords us that opportunity.”

The deal will be subject to NHL and regulator approvals.

TD Capital Group holds a 13.46 per cent minority share of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment which also controls the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, the Toronto FC soccer franchise and the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. MLSE also owns the Air Canada Centre.

Teachers’ stake could increase to between 76.35 per cent and 79.53 per cent, subject to the MLSE shareholders’ agreement

Kilmer Sports holds about 20.5 per cent.

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan administers the pensions of 295,000 active and retired teachers in the province.

With files from Sunny Freeman

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Advocate file photo).
RDC wins two national awards for environmental initiatives

Clean50 and LEED awards were received for innovative, green projects

Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak with 10 or more active cases. ( File photo by Advocate Staff)
COVID-19 impacting Red Deer schools

Education minister says 99.6 per cent of students and staff remain in school in Alberta

Sylvan Lake product Carter Graf is having a strong second season at North Carolina State University representing the Wolfpack in NCAA Div. 1 men’s golf. (Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics)
Sylvan Lake’s Carter Graf finding success in second season at NC State

Carter Graf and the North Carolina State Wolfpack have been scorching hot… Continue reading

DynaLife is hiring more staff to bring waiting times for blood tests down in Red Deer. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma, File)
DynaLIFE is hiring more staff in Red Deer to reduce wait times

Wait times for appointment will be further reduced

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

A Quebec Superior Court justice is set to issue a ruling Tuesday on the constitutionality of the province’s secularism law, known as Bill 21. People hold up signs during a demonstration against Bill 21 in Montreal, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Quebec court upholds most of province’s secularism law, exempts English school boards

MONTREAL — Quebec’s secularism law is largely legal, a Superior Court judge… Continue reading

Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth speaks during a press conference at the legislature in Victoria, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019. The British Columbia government is providing a few more details about travel restrictions aimed at limiting movement around the province to slow the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Periodic roadblocks but no individual stops planned for B.C.’s COVID-19 travel rules

VICTORIA — The British Columbia government is looking at using periodic roadblocks… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is joined virtually by Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland as they talk online to a group of front-line pharmacists from across the country to discuss the ongoing vaccination efforts in the fight against COVID‑19, from the Prime Ministers office on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Provinces balk at Liberals’ child-care budget pledge as funding negotiations loom

OTTAWA — Multiple provincial governments are questioning the Liberals’ promise of a… Continue reading

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist, an independent pharmacy in Toronto, Monday, April 19, 2021. Younger Canadians in several provinces are now able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Trudeau, Freeland seeking AstraZeneca shots as they become age-eligible with others

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland… Continue reading

The Rogers Logo is photographed on a Toronto office on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin
Rogers says wireless service fully restored but questions remain after massive outage

A massive countrywide wireless outage that left millions of Rogers Communications Inc.… Continue reading

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

The controversial Super League is materializing after Madrid and 11 other clubs announced its creation on Sunday. (File photo by BLACK PRESS)
Super League a ‘longtime dream’ for Madrid president Pérez

League created because coronavirus pandemic left clubs in a dire financial situation

San Jose Sharks centre Patrick Marleau (12) skates during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Minnesota Wild, in San Jose, Calif., Monday, March 29, 2021. Marleau is skating in his 1,757th game. Only one other player in NHL history has hit that mark. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Tony Avelar
Patrick Marleau set to break Gordie Howe’s record for most NHL games played

Marleau was set to suit up for the 1,768th time Monday

Most Read