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By Doug Alexander and Devin Banerjee
TORONTO - Providence Equity Partners LLC, the U.S. buyout fund, is considering a bid for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd., owner of Toronto’s professional hockey and basketball teams, according to a person familiar with its plans.
Providence Equity, a Rhode Island-based private equity firm, is involved in the auction, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
The Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Canada’s third-largest pension fund, said March 12 it may sell the firm that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs National Hockey League team and Toronto Raptors National Basketball Association club.
Teachers’ spokeswoman Deborah Allan declined to comment. Stacey Tramonti, a spokeswoman for Providence, didn’t return a phone call seeking comment.
A sale of the Maple Leafs, who have won the Stanley Cup championship 11 times, would give a potential buyer control of professional hockey’s most valuable franchise, according to Forbes magazine. The Leafs are worth $505 million, according to the magazine’s 2010 ranking of NHL team valuations.
Besides the Leafs and the Raptors, Toronto-based Maple Leaf Sports owns the Toronto FC soccer team, the Air Canada Centre arena and the Toronto Marlies minor-league hockey team.
Ontario Teachers’, with C$107.5 billion ($105 billion) in assets, owns 80 percent of Maple Leaf Sports and is responsible for investing and managing pensions for about 295,000 active and retired teachers in Canada’s most populous province.
The Toronto Star reported earlier Wednesday that Providence is considering a bid.