Toronto teams not on sales block, Teachers' says

Fri Dec 3, 2010 6:45pm EST
 
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TORONTO (Reuters) - The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan (OTTP) said Friday it was not in talks, nor was it anxious to sell, its majority stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team and the Toronto Raptors basketball team.

OTTP President and Chief Executive Jim Leech also said the pension plan, one of Canada's largest, had never received a firm offer for MLSE, contrary to reports that Rogers Communications was in talks to buy Teachers' majority stake.

"We don't generally comment on rumors about our investment plans or ownership, but because this speculation is continuing, I feel it's important to state that we are not now, nor have we ever been anxious to sell our investment in MLSE," he said.

"Teachers' has never had a firm offer to sell our investment, and is not now in negotiations to sell our stake in the sports and entertainment giant."

The Toronto Star newspaper reported Wednesday that Rogers, which is Canada's biggest wireless company and also has cable-TV, media and sports businesses, was in talks to buy Teachers' 66 percent stake in MLSE for C$1.3 billion ($1.3 billion).

Rogers already owns the Major League Baseball's Toronto Blue Jays. Along with the National Hockey League's Maple Leafs and the National Basketball Association's Raptors, a deal for MLSE would also give it the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League and Toronto FC of North America's Major League Soccer.

The Maple Leafs and Raptors are both big revenue earners but have struggled in the standings in recent years. So far this season, the Maple Leafs trail all other Canadian teams in the NHL's point standings.

($1=$1.00 Canadian)

(Reporting by Pav Jordan and Allan Dowd; editing by Peter Galloway)

 
<p>Nazem Kadri of Toronto Maple Leafs battles for the puck with Simon Gagne (L) of Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Toronto, November 30, 2010. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>