Pharmaceutical billionaire Daryl Katz's offer to buy the Edmonton Oilers has been accepted.
The Katz camp has received letters of intent to sell from every member of the Edmonton Investors Group (EIG). This means, pending league and financial approval in the months to come, Katz for all intents and purposes will be the new owner of the franchise, however it may take up to two months for the NHL to grants it's approval. Katz will hold a conference call on Wednesday to discuss the impending sale.
“This is a terrific level of support that will enable us to move forward with the process of securing NHL approval and concluding this transaction,” said Katz in a press release. “I appreciate the Board's hard work over the past few months. I respect their commitment to the community and am very pleased that they recommended my offer to all shareholders.
“Like the EIG and all Edmontonians, I want what is best for the team, the community and the city. I want to help secure a world-class building and continue the EIG's legacy by bringing the Cup back to Edmonton. I also want to strengthen the ties between the Oilers and Rexall. These are two of Canada's great brands - both copper and blue, and both based in Edmonton.”
Katz also announced plans to craete an advisory board that will participate in the stewardship of the team and its ongoing relationship with the fans and the City. According to his plan. the Board will be comprised of up to five current EIG shareholders and other community leaders.
“I see the power of having community representation as part of the team's ownership model," said Katz. "Having an advisory board lets us capture the best of both worlds. It brings together the vision of an entrepreneurial owner with active and ongoing counsel from a Board of community leaders.”
One of the key points of the sale was Katz being able to convince the EIG that it was his intention to keep the Oilers in Edmonton and that he had held conversations with the city to make sure that the team would remain in 'The City of Champions.'
The city is also looking into building a new rink to replace Rexall Place which originally opened in 1974. Edmonton does not want to use taxpayers' money to build an arena that could cost upwards of $1 billion.
Earlier on Tuesday, TSN acquired a copy of a book Katz had put together in order to help the EIG members a chance to get to know him better. He never got the chance to present to book to the Oilers' owners, but it does shed some light on the man who is poised to take over the team.
The presentation highlights Katz's Edmonton roots, his commitment to the community and his life-long love of the Oilers. There are pictures of Katz in the crowd at Oilers games during their glory years.
"I was born in Edmonton, I live in Edmonton and I grew up here with the Oilers during the glory years," Katz says in the book. "I want to own the Oilers because they are Edmonton's hockey team and because I think there is an opportunity, through the Oilers, to do great things for the city."
There are also quotes in the book from some of his supporters, including Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier.
"Daryl Katz is a wonderful Edmontonian," Gretzky is quoted as saying in the book. "I know he cares about the city and I think he would be a tremendous owner for the Edmonton Oilers."
“With Daryl, you are getting a guy that knows what it means to be an Oiler," said Messier in the book. "That can't be taken lightly. He was there when it was at its best and he saw what it's supposed to look like."
Katz is a homegrown businessman who studied law at the University of Alberta before making his fortune through a pharmacy empire. The Katz Group owns the Rexall brand and other drugstore chains.
The 46-year old Katz has made five separate offers to purchase the club from EIG, starting at $145 million last year. The last offer Katz made was for $188 million in December. Former chairman of the Investors group Cal Nichols endorsed the offer prior to resigning his post.
In 2003, the Katz Group signed a 10-year deal for naming rights to the Edmonton rink.