Canada's Rogers considers selling Blue Jays, Cogeco stake

Stadium while the New York Yankees take on the Toronto Blue Jays in the Bronx New York City September 29

Reporter Natalie Wong of Bloomberg News says Wednesday in the Toronto Star that Rogers Communications is considering selling assets such as the Toronto Blue Jays or its interest in cable company Cogeco Inc.to free up capital for other investments.

The company, which has about $13 billion in outstanding debt, now figures it could make more sense to sell the team and license broadcast rights from a new owner, Rogers CFO Tony Staffieri told a UBS investor conference in NY on Tuesday. The almost-30-year-old has some things necessary to do business in Toronto, like a retractable roof, but it sounds like the Blue Jays ownership and management has concluded conversion to a grass field would be too much of a technical challenge, and the cost of a more generalized upgrade is high.

He didn't discuss who might buy the team, or if a deal would include the Rogers Centre, or what they would be worth.

Staffieri said the company still wants rights to sports programming but doesn't have to own a team to have that, pointing to the company's 12-year deal with the National Hockey League.

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Rogers, which operates cable TV and telecom service in Canada, bought 80 percent of the Blue Jays in 2000 and the remaining 20 percent in 2004, as part of a strategy to obtain broadcasting rights for what is Canada's only remaining Major League Baseball team.

As well, the Toronto-based company previous year suspended increases to its dividend as it focused on reducing long-term debt, a move that drew shareholder complaints at its most recent annual general meeting.

The Miami Marlins were sold to a group of investors for $1.2 billion in October. A record $2 billion was paid for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012.

Rogers has been a longtime investor in Cogeco and now holds about a third of the media company and a fifth of its cable unit, Cogeco Communications Inc.

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