Fri, Apr 10, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Montreal Canadiens up for sale, local media say

AFP , MONTREAL

The Montreal Canadiens hockey club — winners of 24 championship Stanley Cups since 1916 — is for sale, local media said on Wednesday.

Radio-Canada and others reported that roughly 10 possible suitors had signed confidentiality agreements in order to to have a look at the hockey club’s books.

Owner George Gillett, an US businessman who co-owns the English Premier League soccer club Liverpool and a NASCAR auto racing team, asked bankers last month to evaluate his options, including an asset sale, to repay loans.

Among the potential buyers are Rene Angelil, the husband and manager of singer Celine Dion, Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte and Joey Saputo, president of the Montreal Impact, a United Soccer League soccer team, local media said.

Canadian media behemoth Quebecor Inc and a major Quebec public pension plan manager are also said to be in the running.

Gillett hopes to sell the team and a hockey arena in downtown Montreal to pay back US$75 million in loans due in July.

The potential buyers had until last night to make a bid, expected to top C$400 million (US$324 million), Radio-Canada said.

Gillett bought an 80.1 percent stake in the hockey franchise for C$275 million in 2001.

Forbes magazine estimated the value of the team and the Bell Centre arena last year at C$412 million.

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