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The Edmonton Oilers are worth $188 million to local tycoon Darryl Katz. ((Jimmy Jeong/Canadian Press))

Local billionaire Daryl Katz is willing to buy the Edmonton Oilers for $188 million, but the team's shareholders remain split on whether to sell.

Thirty-four members of the Edmonton Investors Group met Monday behind closed doors to discuss Katz's latest offer to purchase 7,492 shares in the team by Jan. 31 at $20.56 per share.

Katz, a reclusive businessman who owns the Rexall pharmacy empire, has offered to purchase the Oilers four times in less than a year.

But the 46-year-old tycoon didn't attend the meeting.

"He offered to come but, as I understand it, the invite was conditional and I think, under the circumstances, he chose not to do it," said former EIG chairman Cal Nichols, who remains a shareholder in the team.

Nichols told reporters that Katz's invitation was conditional because of "the types of areas that were to be covered."

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," said Josh Pekarsky, Katz's spokesman.

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.

With files from the Canadian Press