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Gillett Playing Monopoly With Canadiens Stock

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A story published on Monday in the Quebec daily La Presse reports that Montreal Canadiens majority owner George Gillett might be considering a sale of the team in order to loosen the purse strings on his cash strapped global empire of acquisitions.

A statement issued by the Gillett family read that it has "retained the services of financial advisers in order to assess various strategic alternatives to optimize the value of its corporate assets. In Canada, the Gillett family has retained the services of BMO Capital Markets and the process is under way."

The news, jumped on by the Canadian Press, can be interpreted in many fashions. "Optimizing the value of its corporate assets" can include everything from the selling off of further shares in companies, to refinancing, to an outright sale. It is doubtful, but not improbable, that Gillett would wish to part with one of his best financial acquisitions.

Restricted by stiffling economic times, Gillett has basically hired BMO and three other financial analysis firms in North America and overseas to review his economic portfolio and inform him on where and what his properties are worth at present and in the immediate future.

The present worldwide financial climate is a wicked one. The circumstances which have lead to Gillett considering a sale of the team in the first place, are the same circumstances that could also prevent its potential sale.

Gillett, who apart from owning an 80.1 percent share in the Habs also own a 50 percent share in the Liverpool soccer club, a Nascar racing team, ski resort and gulf club holdings, and numerous other diversified holdings.

It is being speculated that Gillett brought upon the analysis of his companies due to July 24 scheduled repayment on a 630 million dollar loan with partner Tom Hicks on the Liverpool club.

Gillett bought the Canadiens in 2008 at a bargain price of 275 million dollars Canadian, and the club was recently valued at 334 million U.S. by Forbes magazine this past October. The previous October, Forbes established the Canadiens value at 283 million U.S. The Bell Centre (then named the Molson Centre) was built in 1996 at a cost of 270 million Canadian.