Molson, Bell buy Canadiens hockey team

Beat out Quebec broadcaster Quebecor Media

TORONTO -- Canadian phone giant Bell Canada on Monday emerged as part of the winning bid for the Montreal Canadiens pro hockey team by Montreal's Molson family, part of the Molson Coors beer empire.

The Canadiens' 80% majority owner George Gillett, a Denver-based sports-team and events promoter, did not disclose the terms of his agreement in principle with the Molson-led consortium.

But local media reports put the sale price at CAN$550 million ($487.5 million) as part of a deal to close in August.

"Bell is the ideal partner in our plan to preserve and build on the strong traditions of the Canadiens Hockey Club, and to bring the Stanley Cup back to Montreal." Geoff Molson, who along with brothers Andrew and Justin seized control of the Canadiens, said in a statement.

Bell Canada-parent BCE Inc. holds extensive Canadian media assets, including a minority stake in broadcaster CTVglobemedia and ownership of satellite TV service Bell Expressvu.

The Molsons and minority shareholder Bell Canada beat out a rival bid by Quebec broadcaster Quebecor Media and Quebec-born songstress Celine Dion and her husband/manager, Rene Angelil.

Molson Coors will retain its current 20% stake in the century-old Canadiens hockey franchise.
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