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Teachers won’t sell MLSE

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The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has decided not to sell its stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.

The pension plan has wrapped up an eight-month process during which it explored its options and said Friday that that it wants to hold onto its 79.5-percent stake in MLSE.

Teachers' received and considered numerous offers for the sports franchise, sources said. But the pension fund is keen on the prospects for both the teams and the company. And it believes it can take actions that will help the Toronto Maple Leafs perform better, sources suggested.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., which has more than 600 full-time and 3,000 part-time employees, owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, Toronto Marlies, Air Canada Centre and Maple Leaf Square, in addition to numerous TV assets and websites.

The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan first became involved with the sports franchise in 1994, when it invested in the Leafs. In 2003, it bolstered its ownership to 66 percent of MLSE.

Teachers' decided to put its stake on the block in March of this year to see how much it might fetch, after the pension plan received expressions of interest from potential acquirers. But Teachers' had always said that it would simply hold onto its stake if the ultimate bids didn't live up to its expectations.

In May, Teachers' struck a deal to buy Toronto-Dominion Bank's 13.46-percent stake in MLSE, a move that gave the pension plan more control over the auction process.

Now that Teachers has decided not to sell its stake, the hunt to replace outgoing chief executive officer Richard Peddie will intensify.

Responding to an e-mail, Peddie said Friday he had no comment regarding Teachers "other than Teachers have been a great shareholder and will continue to be."

Peddie announced earlier in the year that he was planning to step down but in August delayed his plans when news broke about the potential sale of Teachers' stake.

At the time Peddie said he would extend his stay to Dec. 31. Peddie said in his e-mail that his retirement is going ahead as planned.

The leading candidate from within the company to replace Peddie is Tom Anselmi, the executive vice-president and chief operating officer.

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