A group comprised of singer Celine Dion, Seagram heir Steven Bronfman, and Quebec media giant Pierre Karl Peladeau are considering making a bid to purchase the Montreal Canadiens away from current owner George Gillett. The franchise was recently valued at $335 million by Forbes magazine, and Gillett has stated he will only sell the team for the right price.
An investment banker close to the negotiation told the Toronto Globe and Mail that this group has been given full access to all financial data on the Canadiens.
“There is a group bid being discussed, and it’s clear that Gillett is very willing to sell if the price is right,” said the investment banker, who is helping line up financing for potential bidders.
However, the banker and other sources familiar with the possible sale of the team cautioned it will be difficult to strike a partnership that satisfies the strong personalities of Dion and husband René Angelil, Bronfman and Péladeau, the dominant player in Quebec media.
Dion is already considered French royalty in Canada, and her image could move to savior status if she bought the Canadiens back from an American. (Gillett is a Denver-based entertainment promoter.)
Bank of Montreal has signed confidentially agreements with 10 potential suitors who have until Thursday to submit a formal bid on the team. The potential buyer will also acquire the Bell Centre in Montreal as well.