Rogers is reportedly considering the sale of several of its media assets, including the Toronto Blue Jays and its stake in Cogeco Inc., a Quebec-based media company, to free up capital for further investments into its wireless network.
No deal is imminent, according to what Rogers chief financial officer Tony Staffieri said during the UBS Global Media and Communications conference in New York on Tuesday, nor does it appear the company has entered into any formal negotiations with potential suitors.
However, even the possibility of Rogers selling the Blue Jays will come as good news to longtime fans of the team. In Rogers’ 17 year ownership of the team, the Blue Jays have not won Baseball’s biggest prize, the World Series.
According to Staffieri, Rogers is interested in retaining ownership of the Blue Jays’ broadcasting rights. He pointed to the company’s 12-year broadcasting deal with the NHL as an example of how it wants to do business moving forward.
Speculation that Rogers planned to sell the Blue Jays started to circulate in earnest in October when the Globe and Mail published a report that said the telecom giant has started earmarking cash from potential asset sales.
Andrew Willis, the author of the article, wrote at the time: “Speculation on Rogers’s plans for the Jays and the Cogeco stake has swirled for years. But the arrival of a new CEO with a reputation for a laser focus on wireless and cable operations and the steady drumbeat for asset sales from the analysts has got the hedge-fund crowd sniffing around,”
Staffieri went into more detail on the company’s reasons for selling Cogeco.
“There were some strategic benefits that we had hoped for with Cogeco and those seem to be further and further away,” he said. “As we think about an environment where interest rates start to go up and compare it to the yield that we’re getting on the asset today, we think there’s probably better use for that capital.”
Rogers recently announced its Q3 earnings and reported net wireless profits of $2.138 billion with 10,625,000 wireless subscribers.
Update 6/12/2017: Rogers has issued a statement on a potential Blue Jays sale, reported in a tweet by journalist Shi Davidi:
“We have terrific sports assets including the Toronto Blue Jays that have performed very well for us. As we have said, we would like to surface value and get credit for these assets in our overall company valuation.”