Gaglardi deal 'quite aggressive': Aquilini

BOB MACKIN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

Francesco Aquilini said he congratulated Tom Gaglardi before his ex-partner signed an Aug. 14, 2004 deal to buy the Vancouver Canucks and GM Place.

"He told me he was about to enter a term sheet to buy 100 per cent," Aquilini said yesterday under cross- examination in B.C. Supreme Court. "I was really surprised, because last I'd known he was at 50 per cent."

Aquilini thought it was "quite aggressive" and asked Gaglardi if he'd consider selling him 20 per cent. Gaglardi turned down the offer, he said, because he had adequate financing with remaining partner Ryan Beedie.

Gaglardi and Beedie's lawyer Murray Clemens claimed Aquilini's pattern of phone calls to Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment CEO Stan McCammon and chairman John McCaw - especially after a Sept. 15 media story about the pending sale - indicated he was stepping up efforts to make his own deal.

Aquilini denied knowing of an Oct. 1, 2004 exclusivity clause expiration in Gagalrdi's term sheet and said it was pointless to negotiate. "Why would he entertain a deal for 20 per cent when he had a deal for 100 per cent?" he said.

Aquilini denied Clemens' contention that he was trying to convince friend and merchant banker Frank Giustra to buy 10 per cent of the team. He also denied meeting with McCaw during an Oct. 13-15 trip to Los Angeles. Aquilini admitted undergoing media training with PACE Group's Norman Stowe on Nov. 9 and 10, 2004. He reached the deal to buy half the club and arena on Nov. 5 and announced it Nov. 17.

Jilted suitors Gaglardi and Beedie want Justice Catherine Wedge to nullify Aquilini's purchase and allow them to buy the NHL club and its arena.

The trial continues.


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