NHL Panthers deal dies over control, money issues

Thu Sep 10, 2009 6:12pm EDT

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  * $230 mln deal collapses for Panthers - source
  * Team owner wanted control, buyer scared of team's finances
 By Ben Klayman
 CHICAGO, Sept 10 (Reuters) - A deal to sell the Florida
Panthers to a publicly held company has collapsed as the hockey
team's owner wanted to maintain control while the buyer grew
skittish over the team's finances, a source close to the
situation said on Thursday.
 Sports Properties Acquisition Corp HMR.A could not
finalize the $230 million deal and talks collapsed two days
ago, said the source, who asked not to be identified because
the agreement was never made public.
 Officials with Sports Acquisition Properties Corp declined
to comment and a spokesman with the Panthers could not
immediately be reached.
 The Miami Herald reported on Wednesday that the deal had
been derailed because its terms did not satisfy the NHL's
ownership requirements. The paper, citing people briefed on the
situation, said the NHL did not like that Sports Properties
lacked a primary investor taking a substantial equity stake.
 However, the source told Reuters the deal collapsed because
Panthers owner Alan Cohen did not want to cede control of the
team, while Sports Properties was scared off by the Panthers'
weak finances.
 A different source had said in June an agreement for the
hockey team; its home, BankAtlantic Center; an arena management
company and some land surrounding the arena, had been reached
for $240 million.
 A special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, is a shell
organization using money raised in an initial public offering
to buy another business. That business then becomes publicly
traded through the SPAC once shareholders approve the deal.
 Sports Properties raised $215 million in January 2008 in
its IPO to invest in the sports, leisure and entertainment
sectors. It has until January 2010 to close a deal or it will
have to return money to investors.
 (Reporting by Ben Klayman, editing by Matthew Lewis)        


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