Liverpool owner receives takeover bid for NHL team

George Gillett, co-owner of Liverpool Football Club in England, seems set to relinquish his control of the Montreal Canadiens National Hockey League franchise.

George Gillett, co-owner of Liverpool Football Club in England, seems set to relinquish his control of the Montreal Canadiens National Hockey League franchise. Gillett, who has been undertaking an analysis of his sports property ownership which also includes a stake in Richard Petty Motorsports, Nascar team, has received two offers for the franchise. Reports from Canada indicate the bids may be as much as US$300 million.

The first is from the Molson Coors Brewing Co., effectively the Molson family. Led by Geoff Molson the consortium of potential investors includes his brothers Andrew and Jim. Geoff Molson, currently a director of the Canadiens as a result of his family’s minority shareholding in the team, said: “We have assembled a very solid and credible group of investors and financial institutions as part of our offer.”

The second confirmed offer has come from Quebecor Media Inc., a Canadian media company that owns many of the country’s newspapers. Pierre Karl, the Quebecor chief executive, called the Canadiens “unquestionably one of the most prestigious and iconic sports franchises in the world” and described his bid as a “golden opportunity” for a Quebec-based firm to take over the team.

Currently Gillett is believed to own 80.1 per cent of the franchise with the Molsons owning the rest, a legacy of their previous full ownership of the franchise which dates back to 1957.

Gillett bought the Canadiens eight years ago for US$181 million. He also owns the Bell Center, where the team plays its home games. It is thought the venue would be part of any deal to buy the team.