Billionaire Daryl Katz's push to buy the Edmonton Oilers has gained momentum following the collapse of a competing bid.
The Edmonton Investors Group, a small group of directors not aligned with Katz within the team's board, has notified the 34 group members that they won't table a counter-offer, known as the Plan B option, that can equal Katz's bid to buy the team.
EIG members met last Monday behind closed doors to discuss Katz's $188-million offer to purchase 7,492 shares in the team by Jan. 31 at $20,560 per share.
Katz has since upped his offer to $22,000 per share (or $200 million), CBC News has learned.
Katz, a 46-year-old local tycoon who owns the Rexall pharmacy empire, has offered to purchase the Oilers four times in less than a year.
According to the Sun, it appears Katz has secured at least 60 per cent of the group's 7,492 shares, and while he could close the deal with that amount, a source indicates he would like to acquire 80 per cent.
Katz has now imposed a Feb. 5 deadline to officially close the deal.
The EIG, formed a decade ago to prevent the team from relocating to Houston, struck a 10-year, $20-million deal with Katz for the naming rights to Edmonton's Northlands Coliseum, renaming it Rexall Place in 2003.
But the EIG remains reluctant to sell the team outright to Katz.
Earlier this month, EIG chairman Bill Butler recommended that shareholders refuse to sell until Katz agrees — in writing — to keep the team in Edmonton and commit $100 million to a new facility to replace 34-year-old Rexall Place.
"There was a response sent to the board to the issues they raised," Josh Pekarsky, Katz's spokesman, said last week.
Pekarsky refused to divulge details of the response, but Katz, who lives in a $20-million mansion in the city's river valley, has expressed a willingness to build a training facility for the team at the University of Alberta.
The city is studying the feasibility of a downtown rink, and speculation is the project will cost between $500 million and $1 billion.