NHL approached by 3rd potential bidder for Coyotes
CHICAGO (Reuters) - The National Hockey League said it has been approached by another potential bidder for the Phoenix Coyotes who wants to keep the bankrupt team in Arizona.
The North American sports league revealed a possible third bid for the team, which is coached and partly owned by hockey's all-time leading scorer, Wayne Gretzky, but did not disclose any details. An NHL spokeswoman declined comment.
"The NHL has been approached by another potential bidder, who did not file a term sheet on June 26, interested in keeping the Coyotes in Glendale," the NHL said in documents filed in federal bankruptcy court in Arizona Wednesday.
"The league has been informed that this bidder will submit an application for transfer of ownership, but does not know whether the prospective purchaser will submit a definitive bid by July 24," the league added.
Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes, a trucking magnate, put the team, which has never made a profit since moving from Canada in 1996, into bankruptcy in May. He said he intended to sell the club for $212.5 million to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who wants to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario, in Canada.
The NHL opposes relocation of the team and has backed a bid of up to $148 million by Jerry Reinsdorf, owner of the Chicago Bulls basketball team and Chicago White Sox baseball club and a part-time Arizona resident. Reinsdorf's attorneys have said he intends to keep the team in Arizona.
Reinsdorf was the only bidder to submit an offer by the court's June 26 deadline for parties wanting to keep the team in Arizona, so it is unclear if the potential new bidder would qualify to be included in the sale process.
The NHL said in the court filing that the potential new bidder "has requested access to, and spent time in, the due diligence data room" studying the team's finances.
In court filings in June, the NHL disclosed that initial expressions of interest had been made by Toronto Argonauts owners Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon and by Coyotes minority owner John Breslow.
In the Wednesday filing, the league asked the court to deny a motion by Moyes' attorneys for more information about Reinsdorf's offer, saying it would "frustrate" the sale and "chill the bidding process."
The NHL said in its filing that details of the Reinsdorf bid will be available when a final bid is submitted by the July 24 deadline.
An auction for the team will be held August 5, limited to bidders planning to keep the team in Arizona. If bids by Reinsdorf or another party were deemed inadequate, a second auction would be held on September 10, open to bidders who have the option to move the team.
Thomas Salerno, an attorney for Moyes, said he did not know the identity of the new bidder and that Moyes' representatives had requested more information from the NHL.
A spokesman for Balsillie, co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd, did not comment on the news of another possible bidder but said his client's offer was still the best.
"It has no impact on Mr. Balsillie's bid to purchase the Coyotes, which we believe, and the creditors believe, is by far the best financial package currently on the table and also the best deal to ensure the future long-term viability of this NHL franchise," Bill walker said in an email.
The case is: in Re: Dewey Ranch Hockey LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Arizona, No. 09-09488.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman; additional reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; editing by John Wallace)
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