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

Consult before creating Fauquier reserve: CCT

Sinixt seek consultation before Westbank reserve gets go-ahead

Needles killer frightened many in our town: BC author

Roy Bugera disrupted life in a quiet Vancouver Island village before moving to Arrow Lakes

Nakusp vets leaving after 30 years

Practice has been sold and new owners will take over in a month

Rebuilding a life after a fateful fire

Doug and Heather Peters reflect on how a Christmas fire upended their lives

Nakusp council tax increase ‘very fair’: CAO

But village bill less than half of final property taxes

VIDEO: Climber ‘catches the sunrise’ over city atop B.C. crane

Police warn ‘rooftopping’ poses risk to climber, public and first responders

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Salmon Arm community cheers on Natalie Wilkie as she wins first gold medal

Local skier tops the podium in 7.5km race at the PyeongChang Paralympics

Experts: Society has a role in trying to prevent domestic violence

Experts are speaking out following the murder of a woman and her son in Ontario

Progress on fixing Phoenix pay system backlog could be short-lived: Ottawa

Feds have said they won’t try to recover money overpaid until all outstanding issues are fixed

Northern lights chasers in Canada discover new type named ‘Steve’

Phenomenon linked to a powerful current created by charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere

Washington state backs B.C. in pipeline dispute

Governor Jay Inslee says he is ‘allied’ with the province on Trans Mountain expansion projection

SAY WHAT? Readers weigh in on high-speed rail to U.S.

B.C. to contribute $300,000 to a million-dollar business study on the proposed project

B.C.-based CEO charged with conspiring to sell unhackable phones to criminals

Vincent Ramos of Richmond, was arrested last week in Seattle in years-long undercover operation

Most Read