I wake up this morning and the headlines blare Serge Savard wants to buy the Montreal Canadiens.
Now late this afternoon the headlines are about 10 buyers placing bids within the next 48 hours. It appears the Habs really will be sold.
George Gillett is said to be taking offers in order to best assess how to maximize his sports holdings.
Why? Because he might be losing his shirt due to a certain English soccer team he also owns.
He co-owns Liverpool (you may have heard of them) with Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks. The duo are trying to secure funding for a new billion dollar stadium for their soccer team. With the down turn in the economy and without the new venue, the duo stand to lose a lot of money if they sell now.
They might not have any choice. Hicks' Sports Group recently defaulted on $525 million in loans. Gillett has also been caught over leveraged in the global recession. It has been said Gillett is also over-leveraged and he faces a similar default day at some point this year.
There has been some speculation that Gillett has had discussions with groups from Kuwait and Dubai to sell his interests in Liverpool, but any such sale was blocked by Hicks. Now with Hicks in financial peril perhaps both will be looking to sell off the Liverpool asset. But without the new stadium deal in place, they will have to take a serious hair cut if they let go of the team.
So Gillett, who also owns Richard Petty's NASCAR team, is looking to raise money by selling the Montreal Canadiens, who are about as a recession proof of an entity as you can have. The Habs are basically a license to print money. Therefor they also offer the greatest return.
If Gillett needs money quick, selling the Habs are his most profitable solution.
The CBC article lists the 10 groups suspected to be preparing bids. They include Guy Laliberte, owner of Cirque du Soleil; Les Productions Feeling, which is headed by Celine Dion's husband Rene Angelil; media giant Quebecor, and the Moslon family. Serge Savard's group is not mentioned.
In order to buy Gillett's 80% ownership of the Canadiens and 100% ownership of the Bell Center any buyer will be required to hand over about 400 million of these:
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