Reclusive McCaw testifies

BOB MACKIN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:24 AM ET

Greying, balding and walking delicately, slight 56-year-old John McCaw has aged since his late-1990s heyday when he was the most powerful and mysterious man in Vancouver sports.

The reclusive Los Angeles billionaire's fear of the media hasn't changed.

Chauffeurs of three Lincoln Continentals and a Ford SUV helped shield him from photographers at the Law Courts' underground parking lot yesterday. McCaw appeared in B.C. Supreme Court to defend himself against jilted Vancouver Canucks and General Motors Place suitors Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie.

McCaw became a minority shareholder in the NHL club, rink and NBA's Vancouver Grizzlies in 1994 and eventually was the sole owner. His first try at selling the Grizzlies to Bill Laurie was thwarted when the NBA wouldn't let Laurie move the club. McCaw said he settled for "tens of millions of dollars less" from Michael Heisley, who eventually moved the team to Memphis.

He said Francesco Aquilini showed interest in a minority stake in the Canucks in 2001. Aquilini, Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie negotiated together with McCaw in fall 2003.

McCaw told the court he sought a financially sensible deal that offered him an "exit strategy." Aquilini eventually bought half in November 2004 and the rest in a deal that closed in June.

Gaglardi's and Beedie's lawyer, Irwin Nathanson, grilled McCaw about meetings on consecutive days in March 2004 with Gaglardi and Aquilini, before Aquilini left the group.

"You didn't tell either one that you were meeting with them virtually back-to-back, is that right?" Nathanson asked. "That's correct," responded McCaw.

McCaw claimed he didn't intentionally withhold information from Gaglardi and that Aquilini's visit was strictly social, coinciding with his family's trip to Disneyland.


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