MLSE in dark over potential deal: Peddie

ROB LONGLEY, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:24 PM ET

TORONTO - As is normal with any billion-dollar business deal, executives at Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment say they are for the most part in the dark regarding any potential sale of the company.

Richard Peddie, the chief executive officer of MLSE, said Wednesday that speculation of sale of the treasured sports company by the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan to Rogers Communication is beyond his scope.

“This is a board matter,” Peddie told the Toronto Sun via email. “As CEO, I have no knowledge of any negotiations.” That said, Peddie acknowleged that MLSE has a strong relationship with Rogers on multiple levels. Rogers Sportsnet, for example, will air 28 regional Leafs telecasts this season, more than the four networks who have deals with the team.

“Our relationship with Rogers has never been better,” said Peddie, who announced on Tuesday that he would be stepping down as CEO in December 2011. “Whether it is as a sponsor, distributor of our networks (Leafs TV and Raptors TV) or as a buyer of our broadcast rights, they are a great partner.”

It's important to note that even if he had knowledge of a potential deal, Peddie wouldn't be at liberty to discuss them publicly. But he does report to the Teacher's board and as such wouldn't be involved in any negotiations.

Predictably, the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan is not commenting on any potential sales talk either. But with the money being speculated on a possible sale - anywhere from $1.3 billion to approaching $1.8 billion - there is little doubt the Plan management will be listening carefully.

“That’s a pretty tight shop,” a Canadian financial analyst familiar with the Plan’s workings said. “That’s understandable given the fund size and the potential influence they can bear on the market.”


Photos