Gillett gets cash to buy Canadiens

American George Gillett Jr. has secured the necessary financing to complete his purchase of the Montreal Canadiens.

On Monday, Molson Inc. announced that Gillett has accepted a loan of $140 million Cdn from CDP Capital d'Amerique, a subsidiary of la Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec.

Gillett announced he was purchasing Canada's most storied hockey franchise last February.

The Colorado businessman agreed to buy 80.1 per cent of the Canadiens and 100 per cent of the Molson Centre for $275 million Cdn.

Gillett planned to fund purchase of the team by selling his shares in IBP Inc., the largest meatpacker in the United States, which was set to merge with Tyson Foods Inc. But in late March, Tyson withdrew its $3.2-billion takeover of the company.

The failed merger meant Gillett had to look elsewhere to find the capital to complete the Canadiens deal.

Molson, which will retain a 19.9 per cent interest in the franchise, said if for any reason the sale should fall through at the last moment, it will reassume control of the team and its obligations.

Gillett, a self-described "sports fanatic," is a former part-owner of the Miami Dolphins and one-time owner of the Harlem Globetrotters.

Last year he also led a failed attempt to buy the Colorado Avalanche with John Elway.