Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System is nearing a deal to buy 20% of a holding company that owns a stake in Toronto's professional hockey and basketball teams, according to people familiar with the matter.
The Ontario pension fund plans to acquire a minority interest in a private holding company of Canadian businessman Larry Tanenbaum. That firm owns 25% of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which holds the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and other assets.
The deal implies a value of about $8 billion for Maple Leaf Sports, one of the people said, a number first reported by Sportico on Wednesday. The Raptors, which won the National Basketball Association championship in 2019, are worth about $3.1 billion, according to a Forbes magazine valuation last year.
The investment from OMERS isn't a direct investment in MLSE, which has the potential to trigger issues with the sports firm's other shareholders, Rogers Communications and BCE. Those two companies each own 37.5% and have a right of first refusal on any equity sale, BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Casey said in a note.
Instead, OMERS is making an investment in one of Mr. Tanenbaum's Kilmer group of companies, the people said, speaking on condition they not be identified. In effect, the deal, if completed, would give the C$124 billion ($94 billion) Ontario fund a 5% indirect stake in Maple Leaf Sports.
The sports company also owns Major League Soccer's Toronto FC and the Scotiabank Arena, located downtown in Canada's largest city.
Spokespeople for Kilmer and OMERS declined to comment.