On December 1, 2009, following the approval of the National Hockey League (NHL), the group led by Geoff, Andrew and Justin Molson completed the acquisition from the George N. Gillett, Jr. group and Molson Hockey Holdings Inc. of the Montréal Canadiens Hockey Club, the Bell Centre and the Gillett Entertainment Group.
The transaction is considered to be one of the most significant North American acquisitions in professional sports. The Montréal Canadiens Hockey Club is one of the oldest established NHL franchises and among the most successful clubs in North American sports history. The financial details of the acquisition were undisclosed.
The investment group led by the Molson brothers included Woodbridge, BCE/Bell, the QFL Solidarity Fund, Michael Andlauer, Luc Bertrand and National Bank Financial Group.
The acquisition was financed in part by National Bank Financial Group, which led a banking syndicate that included Desjardins Group and Scotia Bank. Investissement Québec also participated in the financing.
The Molson brothers were represented by Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, with a team that included, in Montréal, Sylvain Cossette, Sébastien Savage, Christopher Karambatsos, Alan Golden, Sylvie Guillemette (corporate and commercial) and Fred Purkey (tax); in Toronto, Derek Vesey and Bradley Ashkin (financing); and, in New York, Marc A. Berger (corporate and commercial).
The investment group that formed the acquiror was represented by Lavery, de Billy L.L.P., with a team that included Richard Dolan, Gérard Coulombe, Jacques Paul-Hus, Francis Desmarais, André Paquette, Marie-Andrée Gravel, André Vautour, Sébastien Vézina, Guillaume Lavoie and Valérie Boucher (corporate and commercial); Chantal Joubert and Nicole Messier (real estate); Catherine Maheu and Josiane L'Heureux (labour and employment); Josée Dumoulin (pension and benefits); François Renaud, Pierre Denis and Benjamin Gross (financing); and Luc Pariseau (tax).
The George N. Gillett, Jr. group was represented by Stikeman Elliott LLP, with a team that included France Margaret Bélanger, Pierre A. Raymond, Maxime Turcotte and Marie-Ève Ferland (corporate and commercial); Marie-Andrée Beaudry and Jean-Guillaume Shooner (tax); Pierre Setlakwe and Michèle Baillargeon (real estate); and Howard J. Rosenoff (financing). The Gillett group was represented in the United States by Winston & Strawn LLP, with a team that included Bruce Toth, Gregory Bynan and John G. Kalyvas (corporate and commercial); and Roger S. Lucas (tax).
The banking syndicate was also represented by Stikeman Elliott LLP, with a team that included Jean Lamothe, Sylvia Avedis, Valérie Mac-Seing and Marie-Josée Marcoux.
Molson Hockey Holdings Inc. was represented by Molson's in-house counsel Samuel D. Walker, Michael J. Abbass and Nathalie Delisle; and by McCarthy Tétrault LLP, with a team that included Éric Gosselin, Philippe Fortier, Lorna J. Telfer, J. Robert Doyle, Gregory J. Winfield, Annie Gagnon-Larocque and Fraser Bourne.
Ogilvy Renault LLP represented another bidder, Quebecor Inc.
Torys LLP acted for The Woodbridge Company Ltd.
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP acted for BCE Inc.
Borden Ladner Gervais LLP represented the Solidarity Fund QFL.