Rogers considers selling Toronto Blue Jays

Company says sale could free up capital for its main communications businesses

Rogers Communications Inc. is considering the sale of assets such as baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays and its stake in a smaller cable and media company to free up capital for its main communications businesses.

The media giant’s chief financial officer Tony Staffieri said Tuesday at an industry conference that the company is looking for ways to “surface value” from the Blue Jays — which he said is a “very valuable asset for us that we don’t get full credit for.”

He didn’t discuss who might buy the team, or if a deal would include the Rogers Centre, or what they would be worth.

READ: Police recover Blue Jays rings, including 1992 World Series ring, stolen in 1994

“To be clear, there isn’t anything imminent that we are about to announce, but we’re certainly looking at the alternatives. Again, would like to get the content without necessarily having the capital tied up on our balance sheet,” Staffieri said.

Aravinda Galappatthige, an analyst who covers Rogers for Canaccord Genuity, writes that the issue of assets sales has been raised before but Staffieri’s comments are the most explicit to date.

He estimates that the Blue Jays would be worth about $3.20 per share of Rogers, based on an estimated value of $1.65 billion for the team.

But Galappatthige notes that Rogers has other non-core assets including a 37.5 per cent interest in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team and Toronto Raptors basketball team, and the Rogers Centre — worth $200 million to $400 million.

In total, he estimates Rogers has non-core assets that could be worth close to $5 billion or $9.70 per Rogers share.

“However, we highlight that while asset sales are being considered at a high level, we do not believe there any imminent deals in place at this time,” Galappatthige writes.

Staffieri said the company is currently going through its budgeting process for 2018 and the focus will be on revenue growth and better margins at its wireless and cable divisions.

Staffieri made the comments during an onstage interview at the UBS Global Media and Communications conference in New York, according to transcripts of the event provided by Thomson Reuters.

Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) has previously indicated it is exploring ways to get more value from its portfolio of assets, including the Jays, but Staffieri’s comments in New York were more specific.

He said the company still wants rights to sports programming — which is core to the company’s media business — but doesn’t need to own a team to have that, pointing to the company’s 12-year deal with the National Hockey League.

“Relative to our overall asset portfolio, media is small,” Staffieri said.

But he said sports content continues to have “healthy” margins and can complement the Rogers wireless and cable operations as well.

“Our focus in media will continue to be on the sports side of it. So don’t expect any type of expansion on the media side, other than continue to monetize the sports assets that we have,” Staffieri said.

As for the company’s investment in Montreal-based Cogeco (TSX:CGO) and Cogeco Communications Inc. (TSX:CCA), a smaller cable and media company based in Montreal, Staffieri’s said there’s “probably better use” for that capital.

“There were some strategic benefits that we had hoped for with Cogeco and those seem to be further and further away,” Staffieri told the UBS conference.

Galappatthige said Rogers’ share in the two Cogecos would be worth about $2.98 per share, for about $1.53 billion.

“While we would expect an orderly sell-down in its Cogeco holdings, this could put pressure on Cogeco Inc.’s and Cogeco Communications’ share prices and serve to remove any takeout premium currently imbedded in their stock prices,” he concluded.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Man who pledged to give B.C. hockey team millions charged with fraud

Mike Gould has since repaid $8,000 he allegedly owed Cranbrook restaurant, owner says

Columbia River Treaty to be renegotiated in early 2018

News came in a Tweet from the U.S. Department of State

Site C dam goes ahead, cost estimate now up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan says Christy Clark left him no other choice

Castlegar Rebels take flight in win over Grand Forks

Team speed was too much for the visiting Grand Forks Border Bruins to handle.

Property crime on the rise in Grand Forks: RCMP

Grand Forks RCMP sat down with the Gazette to talk property crime and community solutions.

Me Too At Work: Sexual assault and harassment in the B.C. workplace

Introducing an in-depth look at who is affected and what can be done

Proposed snowmobiles along Sicamous roads concern RCMP

RCMP, ICBC and province not yet on-board with proposed off-road bylaw in the B.C. Interior

‘Assemble your own meal’ kits grow into $120M industry in Canada

Kits offer a middle ground between eating out and grocery shopping

Millennials closing in as B.C.’s biggest wine drinkers

Generation X leads the way in current consumption of B.C. wine, as more wine drinkers are enjoying local varietals

Canadians lag behind Americans in giving to charity

Only one-in-five Canadians donated to charities in 2017

B.C. children adoption rates lagging, despite increased funding: watchdog

More than 1,000 children children are still waiting to be adopted, new report shows

FortisBC to lower natural gas rates in 2018

Rate changes to impact the Lower Mainland, Kootenays, Interior and Vancouver Island

Four-month-old baby girl critically injured in Toronto

Baby, a man and a woman in serious condition

Google searches suggest 2017 a tough year

What were Canadians were curious about: Google searches suggest 2017 a tough year

Most Read