Habs reach agreement to sell team to Molson family

Patrick Caisse, Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:35 PM ET

The Molson family will become the next owners of the Montreal Canadiens after completing the most expensive franchise purchase in NHL history.

Outgoing owner George Gillett and Geoff Molson confirmed Saturday afternoon that they had completed the deal, worth between $550 and $575 million.

The group, headed by Molson brothers Geoffrey, Andrew and Justin, will take over outgoing owner Gillett’s 80.1% stake in the Habs.

Molson-Coors will continue to own the remaining 19.1% of the famed franchise.

In addition to the hockey team, the Molsons also bought 100% of the Bell Centre arena as well as all of the Gillett’s entertainment company.

The passionate hockey family said they were thrilled to be taking over the ownership of the club.

“This is an exciting moment for my family,” said Geoff Gillett.

Molson initially acquired the Habs in 1957 before selling it in 1971. The family re-acquired the team in 1978, eventually selling it to American businessman Gillette, who bought the team for $275 million.

While former Habs star defenceman and general manager Serge Savard was once in the running to buy the club, the 10-time Stanley Cup winner backed out of the race three weeks ago and put his support behind the Molsons.

The Molson family enlisted other partners to complete the deal but a spokesperson said yesterday that it would be “premature to identify them.”

The Molsons beat out another power group made up communications giant Quebecor, Rene Angelil’s company Feeling Productions and the Fonds de solidarite de Quebec for the right to own the team. A group consisting of another American businessman and Stephen Bronfman was also unsuccessful in their bid.

Peladeau declined to comment on the sale Saturday.

The sale is expected to be completed in the next few days.

The Molson brothers

Geoffrey E. Molson, 38, joined the Molson-Coors board about a month ago and has been the VP of marketing for Molson Canada since 2006. He is fluent in French and his children attend a francophone school.

Andrew Molson is the VP of the Molson-Coors board as well as vice-chair of RES Publica Consulting Group.

Justin Molson, the youngest of the three brothers, is the least known of the three. He is a landscape architect based in Vermont where he lives with his family, far away from the family business.


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