Canadiens sale to go ahead as ownership group is finalized

The sale of the Montreal Canadiens to a group led by the Molson family is going ahead.

George Gillett

LAVAL, Que. — The sale of the Montreal Canadiens to a group led by the Molson family is going ahead.

Geoff Molson said Thursday only small details need to be ironed out and the deal should be completed in the next few weeks, subject to approval by the National Hockey League.

The structure of the ownership group was finalized when the Quebec government approved a $75-million loan it had offered to any Quebec-based individual or group that purchased the storied franchise from American owner George Gillett.

The ownership group includes Geoff Molson and his two brothers as well as Bell, the Woodbridge Company, the Quebec Labour Federation solidarity fund, Michael Andlauer and Luc Bertrand. Two-thirds of the partners are based in Quebec.

Molson said it was a private transaction and would not divulge what percentage of the team each group member holds.

As well as Gillett’s majority stake, the group will also buy the 19.9 per cent held by the Molson-Coors brewery, which will stay on as a sponsor.

Gillett, who has owned the team since 2001, agreed to sell the club in June. He was choked with emotion as he and Geoff Molson met with reporters at the team’s annual golf tournament at the Laval-Sur-Le-Lac club

”These things take time,” he said. ”There was never a moment in our discussions when either of us felt we weren’t going to accomplish the goal that the Molson family would be our successor as owner of the team.”

He also apologized to the fans for the team’s failure to win a Stanley Cup during his eight years as owner.

Molson said team president Pierre Boivin and general manager Bob Gainey would remain in their jobs.

It is the fourth time that members of the Molson family will own the team since the 1950s.

”It’s a fantastic opportunity to continue the tradition we’ve always had of being great fans and owners of the Montreal Canadiens and we can’t wait to embark on this opportunity,” he said.

National Bank Financial Group is in charge of debt financing and will form a banking syndicate with the Desjardins Group, and Scotiabank, along with the Quebec government body Investissement Quebec.

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