Jim Sheppard, Executive Editor, globeandmail.com: Globe reporters and columnists will be taking reader questions today on the reports that Rogers Communications Inc. is in talks to buy Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, owner of the Maple Leafs, the Raptors and Toronto FC, from the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan.
Submit your questions via the comments on this article. Our editors will pass them on for answers or comment from our Business and Sports staff.
Then, check back throughout the day for updates.
Kevin Sutton posted this comment on our main article on the reported deal: I'm a little curious as to why Teachers would sell such a cash cow?
Boyd Erman, Streetwise columnist: It depends how you define cash cow. While MLSE brings in a lot of cash, it's believed that the cash generally stays in the company to invest in growth plans. Not much goes out the door to shareholders, Teachers included. They have to be content with the rising value of their equity in MLSE.
But these days, Teachers is in a position where it has to deal with a funding shortfall. The plan pays out more in benefits to retired teachers every year than working teachers contribute.
So, the ability to lock in the gain in MLSE's value and redeploy the cash from a sale into assets that generate more dividends day-to-day might be an attractive proposition.
Keep in mind though that at the moment, we don't know how keen Teachers is to sell. Only that they're talking.
Michael Grange, Sports columnist, in his blog First Up: The reported price -- $1.3-billion -- for Teacher's 66-per-cent stake seems cheap for a business that generates just south of $500-million in revenue annually.
According to sources close to MLSE, NFL teams - a league where teams actually make profits - are valued at about 3.5 times revenue. On that math a $1.8-billion price tag for the whole operation and $1.3-billion for Teachers stake seems sensible.
But . . . Teachers is not desperate to sell a business that generates steady cash flow, so there will have to be a considerable premium paid by any purchaser. I'd be surprised if that premium doesn't push the overall value of the company well over $2-billion.
Brown Ottawa: Rogers will have a better understanding of what makes a successful brand as opposed to those diabolically profiteering teachers.
Iain Marlow, Telecom Reporter: Teachers isn't in the business of managing companies. It makes strategic investments.
Rogers executives certainly know how to run a successful company. If they buy and control MLSE, they would presumably bring their own acumen to that business.
Whether that would involve changes to brand management, in terms of marketing or advertisements or reputation, is anyone's guess.
Bruce Dowbiggin, Sports columnist: The brand is being maxed out already _ short of winning something. The missing link is sports intelligence. Rogers hasn't shown any more smarts here than does MLSE. They're too sensitive to media. Make Bob McCown the GM of all the teams. He runs them now through his radio show.
Mr. Right: It's a perfect acquisition for Rogers. Sports is the only appointment TV left and they can blur the lines between content provider and distributor, and push the envelope with the CRTC.
Anti-Consensus: If Rogers does this deal, the angle is probably based on a long-term view that they can offer live games on the wireless side of their business exclusively. So if you have a Rogers cellphone or an iPad/Playbook/Galaxy with Rogers 3G, then you will be able to watch the game live with these devices. On the cable side, there probably won't be any noticeable differences. In other words, Rogers will negotiate with Bell and others so that viewers across Canada can see the games regardless of who the cable operator is. The key thing here is that Rogers will control the content.
Bruce Dowbiggin, Sports columnist: Precisely. Rogers (and other carriers) understand that consumers are doing an end-run around bricks-and-mortar carriers. They must control the next generation of distribution and content via streaming . Thus, the phone/ iPad etc. play for Rogers. And the deals with the Western NHL clubs for their rights that go 10 years (Edmonton, Calgary) and five years (Vancouver). Sports is the only appointment TV left and the networks covet them.
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