SBD/February 2, 2011/Franchises

Devils Partner Looks To Sell Stake; Vanderbeek Seeks To Remain In Control

Gilfillan, Vanderbeek teamed to buy Devils in '04 for $125M

Devils co-Owner Michael Gilfillan, a "minority partner in the franchise for more than a decade and a key figure in the development of the Prudential Center, is looking to sell his stake in the team," according to Giambusso & Mueller of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. Devils Chair & Managing Partner Jeff Vanderbeek yesterday in a statement confirmed that Gilfillan, President of Brick City Hockey, has "retained Baltimore investment bank Moag & Co. to explore the sale of his share." Gilfillan and his father-in-law, Raymond Chambers, control Brick City. Moag & Co. "sent out a letter to prospective investors on Jan. 25," and the potential sale of Gilfillan's interest in the team "remain in the early stages." Sources indicated that Gilfillan and Chambers "don’t want to invest millions of dollars more into the franchise, which is building two high-end restaurants" in Prudential Center and "contributing to the development of a nearby hotel." Brick City and Vanderbeek teamed to buy the Devils for $125M in '04 (NJ.com, 2/1). Vanderbeek said he has no "desire to sell the team," and anticipates "maintaining a controlling interest." However, a source indicated that Brick City owns "half the team," and if someone buys the holding company's stake "they may not want to share controlling interest" (N.Y. POST, 2/2).

SETTING UP FOR A POWER STRUGGLE? Gilfillan in a statement said Brick City has the "contractual rights under its partnership agreement with Jeff Vanderbeek to cause a sale of the entire team and arena rights, subject to certain terms and conditions." A source indicated that Vanderbeek is "considering buying out part or all of Brick City’s share and that the day-to-day operations of the hockey club and Prudential Center will not be impacted" (Bergen RECORD, 2/2). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts cites a source as saying that Chambers is the "real power in the ownership group," and it is his "unhappiness with the way the Devils are operated that resulted in Brick City’s decision to sell its share." Sources said that Chambers' "unhappiness stems from how Vanderbeek operates the team and the arena." While Vanderbeek wants to maintain a controlling interest, the source indicated that the "ownership structure of the team is complicated and Chambers could hold a majority interest in the franchise through more than one company." NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in an e-mail yesterday said that Chambers is "not the majority owner of the team" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/2).

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