Celine Dion May Have The Habs Yet

noah | April 17, 2009 9:45 am

Perhaps hoping to assert her Québecois status even further, singer Céline Dion is interested in being part of a group that would buy the 24-time NHL champions the Montreal Canadiens, who are currently fighting their way through the first round of the NHL playoffs against their blood rivals from Boston. It’s unsure whether or not this would mean that she would be the only person to sing “O Canada” before games, but it definitely would mean that Montreal might have a regional sports network coming to town!

As the Canadiens begin a first-round playoff series with the Boston Bruins as heavy underdogs, majority owner George Gillett is into the second round of bids for the team and arena he purchased nine years ago for $185-million (U.S.). One investment banker familiar with the process said potential buyers who made “initial expressions of interest” now have full access to financial data on the Canadiens and the Bell Centre.

“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, Claridge Investments head Bronfman and Péladeau, the dominant player in Quebec media.

This trio of potential buyers is said to be contemplating a dedicated pay-TV channel in Quebec that would carry Habs games and other hockey-related content as one way to increase revenues from the team.

Several major-league sports teams have launched these networks, to mixed reviews from fans. Regular-season Canadiens games are currently shown in the province on RDS, an arm of CTVglobemedia (which also owns The Globe and Mail).

A canada.com poll about the Canadiens’ sale–the franchise, recently valued at $335 million by Forbes, is currently owned by an American–indicates that Quebecers would like someone local to own the team, so as to keep up local pride. Carl Wilson, are you out there to help us parse whether or not Dion falls into that category?

Big names mull joining forces in bid for Habs [Globe & Mail]

Tags: ,