NHL Panthers deal dies over control, money issues
* $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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