SBD/August 9, 2013/Franchises

Sources: Deal For Jeff Vanderbeek To Sell Devils Could Be "Imminent"

Vanderbeek reportedly is negotiating with two different groups over the sale
Devils Owner Jeff Vanderbeek is on the verge of an "imminent" deal that would result in him "giving up controlling interest -- and possibly all interest -- in the team and operating rights of Prudential Center in Newark," according to sources cited Tom Gulitti of the Bergen RECORD. A source said that the sale of the team to one of two bidding groups "could be completed 'quickly' and estimated it might be only a matter of days." Another source said that this timetable "might be overly optimistic, but that the process is 'close' to wrapping up." Sources confirmed that a group headed by Philadelphia-area attorney Andrew Barroway "remains heavily involved in trying to buy the team and is already far down the road of reaching agreements with the NHL and the lenders that hold the team’s debt." Barroway’s group "already has invested" more than $30M in the Devils. Sources said the other group bidding for the team is headed by 76ers Majority Owner Josh Harris. A source said that Harris' group "became involved at Vanderbeek’s invitation after Barroway’s exclusive window to buy the team expired late last month without a completed sale." Gulitti reports the NHL has "been highly involved with Vanderbeek in the sale process to ensure that the team will remain in New Jersey -- an interest shared by both bidding groups." NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday said that any sale announcement "would be made by the Devils and not the league." Forbes reported that the NHL "plans to take over the Devils’ financial operations if the team is not sold before the 2013-14 season begins in October, something Bettman and NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly denied Thursday" (Bergen RECORD, 8/9).

A LONG TIME COMING: Devils officials said that the team has "been struggling to pay" its bills for months. In Newark, David Giambusso notes rumors of a sale "have been circulating for more than a year." Each time a deal "came close to fruition it was scrapped at the last minute" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 8/9). The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts writes after the Coyotes became "stable in the short-term" due to their sale to IceArizona, the Devils "quickly became the NHL's biggest financial headache" (GLOBE & MAIL, 8/9).
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