Rogers and Bell announce deal to buy 75% of MLSE

Bell Canada and Rogers Communications announced today they have agreed to purchase a 75% ownership position in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) from Ontario Teachers Pension Plan for $1.32 billion. Each company will own a 37.5% equity interest.

MLSE is Canada’s largest sports and entertainment company and owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Marlies and Toronto FC.

MLSE also has major real estate and entertainment assets including the Air Canada Centre and the Maple Leaf Square condominium and commercial complex, operates three sports specialty TV channels, and is the exclusive partner of the NBA in Canada.

In a concurrent transaction, Kilmer Sports Inc. (KSI) will increase its current 20.5% ownership interest in MLSE to 25%. KSI is owned by Larry Tanenbaum, who will continue to serve as Chair of MLSE and as a Governor of the NHL, the NBA and Major League Soccer.

The deal means Bell and Rogers Media combined will have the TV, mobile, digital online and radio broadcast rights to all the professional sports teams in Toronto.

The deal will likely mean the death of Hockey Night in Canada on CBC when the public broadcasters deal with the NHL expires in 2014 and the games are broadcast on Bell Media’s TSN network or Rogers Sportsnet.

The financial transaction is expected to close in mid-2012 following required regulatory and league approvals.

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