Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 30 August 2014

Gillett will Pool more resources

Liverpool owner George Gillett has agreed to sell the NHL's Montreal Canadians to the Molson family in a deal that could help lift the financial cloud over the Barclays Premier League club.

The deal to sell the NHL's most successful ever team is worth a reported US dollars 550 million (£330 million).

Gillett put the Canadians up for sale earlier this year as he scrambles to find funds to meet obligations on debt incurred as part of his takeover of Liverpool in partnership with Tom Hicks.

The sale includes Gillett's 80% stake in the team, the Bell Centre arena, and the Gillett Entertainment Group. Brewing moguls the Molsons, who sold the controlling interest in the team to Gillett for around USD275 million (£165 million) in 2001, already own the remaining 20% share.

“This is a very exciting time for our family and we are grateful to the many people and organisations who came forward to offer their collaboration in the development of our proposal,” Geoff Molson said in a statement today.

The sale must first be approved by the NHL's Board of Governors, and will likely not be completed for several more weeks.

The NHL's approval of the sale would, however, seemingly be only a matter of course.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman responded positively to the news of the deal today, saying: “I think to the extent that they've been able to find people who are obviously passionate about the game and structure a transaction that makes sense for everybody, that's a real plus for the franchise and the fans in Montreal.”

News of the deal comes a little over two weeks after Liverpool's accountants warned of “significant doubt” over the club's parent company's ability to continue as a going concern with debt repayments due on July 24.

The company formed by Gillett and Hicks suffered a loss of £42.6 million (USD70.5 million) last year, largely on interest repayments. The pair took out a loan of £350 million (USD580 million) when they bought the club in 2007.

While Hicks and Gillett have been seeking other investors for Liverpool, they have so far come back empty-handed, meaning funds from a sale of the Canadians could be needed to help cover upcoming payments.

Hicks has also been seeking to sell off elements of his own sporting empire — which includes Major League Baseball's Texas Rangers and the NHL's Dallas Stars.

Hicks' situation is further complicated as the Hicks Sports Group in April defaulted on a £325 million loan (USD 525million) relating to the Rangers and Stars.

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