Billionaire’s megadeal iced, again, in continuing tug-of-war with wary investors
Local billionaire Daryl Katz is baffled by the owners of the Edmonton Oilers after they revealed yesterday that his blockbuster bid to buy the team may be on thin ice — again.
Katz called the latest move by the Edmonton Investors Group "confusing," explaining that he fails to see how it serves the best interests of the franchise’s shareholders.
"I have offered repeatedly to meet with the EIG board of directors and EIG shareholders — either individually or as a group — to discuss my interest in acquiring the team and answer their questions," Katz said in a statement.
"Neither the board nor its advisors have accepted my offers to meet."
The current offer isn’t sitting well with the team’s group of investors and its lawyers, says the new EIG board chairman.
"Nobody should be signing that agreement until items within that agreement are verified," said chairman Bill Butler.
Katz, a local Forbes-listed billionaire and owner of Rexall Sports Corp., offered around $188 million to buy the team as an asset purchase on Dec. 13. It was his fourth unsolicited offer to buy the hockey franchise.
Under legal advice, the investor’s group is now recommending shareholders decline the offer after an information meeting set for Jan. 21, but only if Katz hasn’t answered a list of concerns by then.
One of those questions is whether or not he’d be willing to sign an agreement to keep the Oilers in the City of Champions.
The group also wants Katz to comment on media reports that state he’s willing to put up $100 million for a possible new arena that’s proposed for the city’s downtown core.
Butler admitted there is a small rift growing among the shareholders about whether or not they should follow through on Katz’s plans.
"Clearly there are members of our group that may have some bias one way or another," he said.
For instance, Cal Nichols, the founding chairman of the EIG, told reporters last month that shareholders should give the offer the green light after agreeing to sell his own shares. The move was a sudden reversal from his long-standing "not for sale" position.
"I am extremely proud of what the EIG has done for the Oilers, but it’s probably time to pass the torch to a new generation of ownership," Nichols said in statement.