La Presse's Jean-François Bégin is reporting that an agreement in principle between the Gillett and Molson families has been reached for the purchase of the Habs and the Bell Centre. The report states the agreement will be announced later today.
Though the report does not mention Gillett Entertainment Group and the Canadiens share of its new practice facility in Brossard, it should be assumed that they are both part of the deal.
La Presse did not have a dollar figure on the amount of the purchase, citing a source that says it is for well over $500 million. Sports Business Journal will report Monday that a deal will bring in over $600 million.
That's quite a return on an investment of $275 million to purchase 80.1 per cent of the team only eight years ago.
Canadiens fans should rejoice over this news because it will keep the team out of the hands of Quebecor World Media. Pierre Karl Péladeau was not shy to mention that he envisioned the Canadiens as part of his convergance-based empire, and that with all the media platforms at his disposal the public would get unprecedented access to their beloved team.
What he did not say is just how much that access would have cost, because you can be sure that Quebecor would seize on the fervent popularity of the team to cash in even more than Gillett was doing until now, which is saying a lot.
The urgency to strike a deal was becoming serious, as the NHL board of governors is set to meet in Montreal this week and Gillett reportedly was quite desperate to have the new owners approved at that meeting. Gillett and his Liverpool co-owner Tom Hicks are facing a deadline for a $650 million loan with the Royal Bank of Scotland next month, though they have reportedly negotiated an extention of that deadline. Hicks is looking to sell his majority share of the Texas Rangers in an effort to come up with the money to cover his share of the loan.
Maybe now Bob Gainey and the hockey department can get busy announcing some news of its own.