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Leafs, Raptors sold to Canadian communications companies

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors have been sold to rival communication companies, Rogers and Bell Canada.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has sold its 75 percent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment -- which owns the NHL's Leafs and NBA's Raptors, as well as the Air Canada Centre, the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies and Toronto FC of Major League Soccer -- to the communication giants.

Rogers and Bell Canada will each own 37.5 percent of MLSE, while Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum, owner of Kilmer Sports, will increase his stake to 25 percent. The overall deal is worth $1.32 billion.

"MLSE is one of Teachers' longest standing and most successful investments," said Jane Rowe, senior vice-president of Teachers' Private Capital. "We are proud of this iconic company, in which we first invested in 1994. It is second to none in the industry and has a very bright future. We believe that Bell and Rogers, with their MLSE partner Kilmer Sports, will deliver on the company's potential."

The transaction is expected to close in mid-2012 and is subject to regulatory and league approvals. Tanenbaum will continue to serve as chair of MLSE and as a Governor of the teams in the NHL, the NBA and Major League Soccer.

"I want to thank Teachers' for their partnership over the last 15 years," said Tanenbaum in a statement. "Together, with our dedicated employees, we have built one of the finest sports and entertainment companies in the world.

"I am excited to welcome our new partners Bell and Rogers. I am proud this is a made-in-Canada deal that will bring resources and expertise to help us win on and off the ice, court and pitch. This is a terrific path forward for our teams and our fans. It will ensure MLSE continues to make a positive impact in Toronto and across this great country of ours."

Rogers Communications already owns the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball and the Rogers Centre, as well as the Sportsnet media brand throughout Canada.

Bell Canada is Canada's largest and most established communications company, which includes leading sports networks TSN Canada and RDS.