Off to court

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 12:48 PM ET

Aquilini Investment Group's surprise buyout of the Vancouver Canucks and General Motors Place last Wednesday coincided with the filing of new court papers by jilted suitors Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie.

The Nov. 8 statement of claim, updating the original Jan. 19, 2005 lawsuit, asks the B.C. Supreme Court to cancel AIG's purchase of the National Hockey League club and its arena. Gaglardi and Beedie want another chance to become owners. They claim ex-partner Francesco Aquilini, AIG's managing director, secretly upstaged them and cut a deal with reclusive Seattle billionaire John McCaw.

Gaglardi and Beedie claim they were approached in 2003 by a firm hired by McCaw to seek buyers for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment. They recruited Aquilini and agreed to split the cost three ways. Aquilini, citing a lack of financing, allegedly dropped out in early 2004 but promised to abide by a confidentiality agreement.

"On or about Nov. 5, 2004, McCaw, on behalf of the vendors, advised [Gaglardi and Beedie], without warning, that the Oct. 30, 2004 offer had been the vendors' final offer and that the negotiations were at an end," said the statement of claim.

AIG announced its 50 per cent purchase of Orca Bay on Nov. 16, 2004. It bought the other half a week ago today. Costs weren't disclosed. "I feel I didn't do anything wrong," Francesco Aquilini said last Thursday. "The court process will take its course and I'm not going to comment."

The matter will go to court in April.


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