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

Victoria joins worldwide anti-gun protest March for Our Lives

On March 24, protesters gathered at the Legislative Assembly of BC

Royal Roads hosts an Easter egg hunt and Holi Festival

There was fun for all age groups at the event celebrating different cultural traditions

Grizzlies’ season ends in overtime loss

Victoria wasn’t able to pull off another comeback

Langford council news in brief

Luxton Road closure, Sooke Road development, a new bridge deck and more lighting in the works

Local golfer enjoys the new development program at Bear Mountain

Golf Canada’s centralized development program a success so far

Vancouver Island’s Best Videos of the Week

A look at some of the best video stories from the past week ending March 23, 2018

B.C. umpire has developed thick skin after 30 years listening to insults

Scott McLaren pays no mind to comments from the cheap seats

Musicians Sarah Harmer, Grimes join B.C. anti-pipeline protests

Musicians are in Vancouver for the Juno Awards on Sunday night

Saanich invites input on garden suites

Early returns suggest support for the legalization of garden suites, but the… Continue reading

Canadian cities hold March for our Lives events in wake of Florida shooting

Hundreds of people support the massive March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C.

Health officials called after acid spill near B.C.-Alberta border leaks into creek

Tanker truck crashed south of Dawson Creek, spilling 17,000 litres of hydrochloric acid

Embattled band Hedley plays last show in B.C. before hiatus

About 3,000 tickets had sold for final performance at Kelowna’s Prospera Place

Public warned not to eat herring eggs harvested from French Creek to Qualicum Bay

Island Health reports vibrio cholerae infection linked to eating herring eggs

Trudeau to exonerate B.C. First Nations chiefs hanged in 1860s

Prime Minister to absolve Tsilhqot’in chiefs in relation to deaths of 14 construction workers

Most Read