Quebec grants $75 million to Habs sale

Serge Forgues, QMI

, Last Updated: 7:42 PM ET

MONTREAL - The Molson family unveiled the future ownership in their $575 million US acquisition of the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, a deal that includes BCE and Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer.

Geoffrey E. Molson also confirmed the family had received $75 million in guaranteed financing from the Quebec government in order to finalize the sale. The announcement, made at the Canadiens annual golf tournament, ends months of speculation over the team's future. The sale by current owner George Gillett is now expected to be completed in a matter of weeks.

According to the Quebec's Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade, Clement Gignac, the province will earn a profit on the deal thanks to an interest rate set 1.25% higher than what other lenders had been asking.

The province's participation in the deal hinged on two-thirds of the ownership remaining in the hands of Quebec-based companies and backers. Gignac noted that the team was an important part of the province's heritage.

The new group of owners will include BCE and the Woodbridge Group, co-owners of CTVGlobemedia, and Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer. Former Montreal stock exchange head Luc Bertrand and Quebec-based investment fund, Fonds de solidarité de la FTQ, are also onboard. Molson declined to reveal exactly what percentage each new partner holds.

The Molson family acquired the 19.9% stake in the team held by Molson Coors, although the brewing company will remain a major team sponsor. The Molsons now also control George Gillett's stake.

At yesterday's press conference, an emotional Gillett apologized to fans for not having brought home the Stanley Cup, but said he sincerely hoped the team would do so under their new owners.

Under the deal, Geoff Molson will become president and CEO, while Pierre Boivin will stay on as team president. The transaction must now be approved by the NHL, a step widely seen as a formality.

The sale includes the Montreal Canadiens, the Bell Centre and Gillett's company, the Groupe Spectacles Gillett.


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