x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Surprise new twist in Coyotes buy-out saga

The NHL filed a bid for the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes franchise on Tuesday and said they planned to re-sell the team to a third party outside of the bankruptcy process if they win.

NEW YORK // The National Hockey League (NHL) filed a bid for the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes franchise on Tuesday and said they planned to re-sell the team to a third party outside of the bankruptcy process if they win. The news of the NHL's bid came shortly after a group led by Jerry Reinsdorf - owner of Major League Baseball's Chicago White Sox and National Basketball Association's Chicago Bulls teams, which had enjoyed the NHL's support - said they would not be able to submit a bid by a court-mandated deadline of Tuesday. They had offered up to US$148million (Dh543m) for the team.

The Coyotes filed for bankruptcy protection in May and an auction for the team is scheduled for September 10 in the federal bankruptcy court in Arizona. The NHL had until midnight on Tuesday to file their bid in the court's electronic system. The NHL did not specify the terms of their bid but the deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement that their action was "necessary at this time in order to best preserve and maximise the value of the club asset for benefit of the club's creditors and for the community of Glendale".

When the Coyotes filed for Chapter 11 protection, James Balsillie co-chief executive officer of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion offered to buy the team for $212.5m on condition he be allowed to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario. But the league's governors in the past made it clear Balsillie was not welcome in their clubhouse. "This obviously comes as a surprise but we look forward to seeing what the NHL's bid is," Bill Walker, a spokesman for Balsillie, said of the NHL's move.

The NHL have insisted they want to keep the team in Glendale and have repeatedly locked horns with Balsillie, last month dismissing his bid. "We believe this step ...[is] an effort to maximise the likelihood that the club ultimately will be sold to an acceptable purchaser who is committed to operating the franchise in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale," Daly added on Tuesday. A federal bankruptcy judge in Arizona is set to decide next week whether Balsillie's bid can be included in the bankruptcy auction, which originally was to be limited to bidders committing to keeping the team in Glendale.

Meanwhile Ice Edge Holdings LLC - a group of Canadian and American businessmen who had previously offered up to $150m - said on Tuesday that they had submitted a firm bid. Balsillie filed an amended bid this week that would allow him to walk away from any sale of the Coyotes if the case is not resolved in his favour by September 14. Balsillie, in another court filing, maintained that the league were simply doing the bidding for the Toronto-based Maple Leafs and claimed he was rejected because moving a team to Hamilton would infringe on the Leafs' territorial rights.

He said that despite claims by the NHL that the unlawful "territorial veto" is no longer part of the league's constitution, the Leafs "have expressly maintained their rights to enforce it". Balsillie in recent years has failed in his attempts to buy the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators. The Coyotes have never made profit since moving to Arizona from Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1996. * Reuters