Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan ‘may end up looking’ at Blue Jays

Toronto Blue Jays fans cheer during a post-season game in October, 2016. (Mark Blinch/CP)

The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan “may end up looking” at investing in the Toronto Blue Jays if owner Rogers Communications Inc. decides to sell the team.

“We’re always prepared to look at anything, and from that perspective, we have to keep our ear to the ground to make sure we’re not missing potential opportunities out in the marketplace,” Ron Mock, president and CEO of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), told Business News Network in an interview.

An independent organization, the OTPP is the largest single-profession pension plan in Canada. It’s no stranger to the sports world, having held an ownership share in Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) for 18 years. The total ownership stake rose to 79.53 per cent in 2011, and the following year OTPP completed the sale of its entire share in MLSE to Rogers and Bell Media for $1.32 billion.

MLSE owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC, minor-league franchises for those clubs, as well as the Air Canada Centre and BMO Field.

“We clearly have the capability of analyzing sports franchises like Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment,” said Mock. “For us, that was an excellent investment while we had it.”

Speculation about Rogers selling the Blue Jays became heightened last week when chief financial officer Tony Staffieri spoke openly about considering the possibility.

During a Q&A session at a global media and communications conference in New York, Staffieri was asked whether it still makes sense for Rogers to own a sports franchise. He said there are “other ways we can get the exclusive content through renting it, much like we did with our NHL deal. And so, we’re looking at ways to better surface values for the Blue Jays, for example. That’s become a very valuable asset for us that we don’t get full credit for. And so, like some of the other assets on our balance sheet, we’re looking at better ways to surface value for them.”

Staffieri added there aren’t any imminent plans or timelines to sell the team.


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