Hockey

Habs open books to 10 potential buyers

The Montreal Canadiens are up for sale, and 10 potential buyers have so far signed confidentiality agreements with the Bank of Montreal allowing them to take a look at the club's financial records, the bank confirmed Tuesday.

The Montreal Canadiens are up for sale, and 10 potential buyers have so far signed confidentiality agreements with the Bank of Montreal allowing them to take a look at the club's financial records, the bank confirmed Tuesday.

In total, the bank identified 50 potential buyers for the team and its arena, the Bell Centre. The deadline for an offer is 5 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Potential suitors include the Caisse de dépôt et placement, which manages the province's pension fund; Guy Laliberté, owner of Cirque du Soleil; and Les Productions Feeling, which is run by René Angelil, husband and manager of pop superstar Céline Dion.

Others include the Claridge Investment House, media giant Quebecor, Joey Saputo (owner of the Montreal Impact), Roustan Capital, the Molson family, Spectrum Equity and the Aldo Group.

Also, former Montreal Canadiens general manager Serge Savard said earlier Tuesday that he and a group of partners are prepared to buy the NHL franchise.

Rumours of the sale of the Canadiens heated up late last week as news broke that majority shareholder George Gillett was seeking advice from financial firms in Canada and elsewhere about how he might maximize his holdings.

Gillett owns the Bell Centre, the Canadiens' home arena, as well as an 80.1 per cent stake in the team.

He also has a 50 per cent stake in the English soccer giant Liverpool and has interests in the Richard Petty Motorsports NASCAR team, event promoter Gillett Entertainment Group, ski resorts, car dealerships and agricultural companies.

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