SBD/Issue 172/Franchises

Molson Family Considers Bid To Acquire Control Of Canadiens

Molson Family's Bid For Canadiens Would
Not Involve Molson Coors Brewing Company
Molson Coors Brewing Co. VP/Marketing Geoffrey Molson yesterday announced that he is “‘considering the possibility of submitting a proposal’ under which his generation of family members would purchase outright control” of the Canadiens, according to Jan Ravensbergen of the Montreal GAZETTE. Molson family spokesperson Luc Beauregard said that the situation is “fluid and in the early stages,” and he “would not rule out the financial participation of non-family partners.” Thomas and Hartland Molson bought the Canadiens in ’57, and the family retained an “indirect interest when George Gillett bought 80.1[%] of the club” and Bell Centre nine years ago. Geoffrey Molson said that the prospective offer would not involve the brewing company, and the family’s “interests in any such bid would have to be kept entirely separate from the 19.9[%] stake retained by Molson Coors” (Montreal GAZETTE, 5/27). Geoffrey Molson, who is a director of Molson Coors and serves as the brewer’s representative on the Canadiens’ BOD, said that he “would not participate in the work of either board when the sale is under discussion.” His brother, Molson Coors Vice Chair Andrew Molson, “will also remove himself from any discussion of the sale.” In Montreal, Pat Hickey notes the timetable for the team's sale calls for a deal to be completed before next month's NHL Draft. Geoffrey Molson's "possible entry into the race would seem to be too late in the process, but it might be an indication that the sale isn't going as smoothly as owner George Gillette would like" (MONTREAL GAZETTE, 5/27). 

DEFENSIVE TRAP: The GLOBE & MAIL's Andrew Willis noted Canada-based telecom company BCE Inc. is "looking at playing defence by backing a bid" for the Canadiens, a "move that would keep rival Quebecor Inc. from seizing the prize." Sources indicated that BCE is "considering a minority role" in the bid by former Canadiens GM Serge Savard, and the "talk in Montreal business circles is that BCE ... would put up a maximum of [C$60M] for a franchise that is expected to fetch more than [C$400M] if it does sell."  Quebecor Media Inc. President & CEO Pierre Karl Peladeau earlier this month confirmed that he is "in talks to buy" the team (GLOBEANDMAIL.com, 5/22). French-language newspaper La Presse cited sources as saying "both firms had formed consortiums to take over the Canadiens," and BCE is "working with the investment arm of a major Quebec trade union." But Quebec-based National Bank Friday said that it was "confident 'that the chance of BCE acquiring or even bidding for the Canadiens is very low.'" The bank cited what it said were "assurances from the firm that the team did not fit in with its main priorities" (REUTERS, 5/22).

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