The search for a new president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which was postponed last spring when the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan put its majority share of the company up for sale, will resume "immediately" according to the outgoing president.
"I've been told the search will start immediately," said Richard Peddie, 63, whose retirement takes effect on Dec. 31.
Peddie declined further comment but the search raises several questions.
First, since Ontario Teachers does not have an interest in who becomes the next president since its interest was sold to Rogers Communications Inc., and BCE Inc., who will direct the search even though the MLSE sale will take several months of work to become final? And how will Rogers and BCE participate even though they are not officially owners and, in BCE's case, have to watch their step because of an 18-per-cent ownership stake in the NHL's Montreal Canadiens?
Conversations with those close to MLSE show that the search will probably be directed by MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum, whose share of the company will increased from 20.5 to 25 per cent once the sale closes. Tanenbaum and representatives of Teachers made up the previous MLSE search committee but Tanenbaum is likely take over, perhaps with help from his friend Dale Lastman, who is also on MLSE's board of directors.
Tanenbaum has a good relationship with both Rogers and BCE, a relationship that was strengthened by his decision not to exercise his right of first refusal on Teachers' MLSE shares, so both companies can be kept abreast of the search for a new president.
MLSE is working with a search firm but the key decision will be made by Tanenbaum with, no doubt, lots of input from Rogers and BCE.
Since there are not many candidates qualified to run a company that counts sports teams, broadcast entities, hotels, restaurants and arenas among its holdings, the decision could be relatively easy.
The only confirmed candidate at present is Tom Anselmi, MLSE's chief operating officer. He said he would like the job and he is the leading candidate from within the company.
Other names mentioned are John Tory, who once ran Rogers and turned to broadcasting when his days in politics ended, and Tim Leiweke, who runs Philip Anschutz's sprawling sports, arena, entertainment and media empire. Leiweke has a friendly relationship with MLSE but his long relationship with Anschutz makes him a longshot candidate.