NEWS

Wayne Gretzky: MLSE Bid Linked To 'Great One'

11/17/2011 07:52 EST | Updated 01/17/2012 05:12 EST
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TORONTO - A report says hockey great Wayne Gretzky has been approached to be part of a group interested in buying a major stake in the parent company of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.

Sportsnet reports an American private equity firm has reached out to Gretzky to be part of the group vying for a large slice of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.

The report comes just days after U.S. private equity firm Providence Equity Partners — the company behind the Yankees Entertainment and Sports Network — expressed an interest in buying the 80 per cent MLSE stake owned by the Ontario Teacher's Pension plan.

Sportsnet reports that two independent sources said Gretzky has been approached by multiple groups interested in buying the stake.

The network says when asked about the interest from the Providence group, Gretzky said he'd been approached by "multiple firms considering the purchase of MLSE."

It also says Gretzky would not give any more details on which specific groups have targeted him.

In addition to the Leafs, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment also owns the NBA's Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC of the MLS, the AHL's Toronto Marlies, the Air Canada Centre and several media assets including Leafs TV and NBA TV.

Teachers' raised its stake in MLSE to roughly 80 per cent earlier this year when it acquired a stake previously held by TD Capital Group. Terms of the deal for the bank's roughly 13.5 per cent stake were not available.

Kilmer Sports, which is controlled by Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum, owns the remaining stake and holds a right of first refusal to match any sale offer under a shareholder agreement.