Canadian Media Giants buy controlling share of MLSE



So it is official, Canada’s two biggest electronic media giants have joined up to purchase the 79.5% majority stake in the parent company of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Raptors, ACC and more from the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan. Big news for sports news and sports on the web and even bigger dollars in the bank roll it took to make the deal. The teachers cashed out for a whopping 1.32 billion dollars, which is based on the enterprise value of just over 2 billion. Remember way back in March when I wrote an article that was a little tongue and cheek about buying the Maple Leafs that was titled “How would you like to own the Toronto Maple Leafs”. Well the teachers finally let the money talk and the sale has come to fruition.

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment

Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment

BCE, the parent company of Bell and Rogers Communication, the two major media giants in Canada formed a partnership for the purchase. Strange bedfellows to be sure because they are in direct competition with each other for the public’s hard earned money in the electronic entertainment industry.

Maple Leafs purchased by Bell and Rogers as part of MLSE

Maple Leafs purchased by Bell and Rogers

A couple of issues still have allsports curious though. It remains to be seen how they got Larry Tanenbaum to agree with the sale because after all he had the first right of refusal on any of the shares being sold. Maybe they are letting Larry control the day to day opperations so he can protect his interests? Or maybe he tried and failed to pull a deal together? You also have to wonder as a fan, how this will effect the average Joe going to a game. I can’t see ticket prices going higher because as of now you almost have to give away your first born child to afford decent seats. But well stranger things have happened, they still could increase prices and then it will become even more of a corporate boondoggle for the games with less atmosphere in the crowd. You don’t notice it that much until you are in Montreal for a game at the Bell Center,  then the crowd difference is glaring. Bell  owns 18% of the Montreal Canadiens with naming rights to its arena and under NHL rules this must be divested at some point before the sale is final in mid 2012.

Bell Media Logo

Bell Media

Rogers  Communications Logo

Rogers logo

Allsports also has to wonder what will become of Leafs TV, Bell and Rogers represent TSN and Sportsnet, the No. 1 and 2 sports broadcasting powers in Canada, therefore Leafs TV becomes somewhat redundant. It will remain to be seen what this means to Leafs fans. It could be a good thing or will we as fans be held hostage.

“No Guts No Glory”

Walt Webb

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