RIM chief bids for NHL's Coyotes

Wed May 6, 2009 8:26am EDT
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By Alexei Oreskovic and Phil Wahba

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Jim Balsillie, the co-chief executive of Canadian smartphone maker Research in Motion, is trying to import a professional hockey team to Canada for the third time in a move that looks likely to put him on a collision course with the National Hockey League.

Balsillie made a $212.5 million offer to buy the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, following the team's unexpected bankruptcy filing, which was announced by the team's owner.

The offer is conditional on the team relocating to Southern Ontario, according to a statement by Balsillie.

But the NHL appeared to be taken by surprise by the Coyotes filing, and has moved to block its owner from acting on behalf of the team.

"We have just become aware of today's Bankruptcy Court filing purportedly made on behalf of the Phoenix Coyotes. We are investigating the circumstances surrounding the petition, including the propriety of its filing," said National Hockey League Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly in a statement posted on the league's web site.

The league has suspended the Coyotes' owner, Jerry Moyes, barring him from having any authority over the club or acting on its behalf.

Balsillie's offer consists of $80 million to investment fund SOF Investments, $35 million to the NHL, and $97.5 million to unsecured creditors.

Balsillie also agreed to post "debtor-in-possession" bankruptcy financing of $17 million. DIP funding allows a bankrupt company to continue operating while it reorganizes.   Continued...

<p>Jim Balsillie,co-chief executive of Research In Motion (RIM), poses with the new "Blackberry Bold" handset during its launch in Mumbai September 18, 2008. REUTERS/Punit Paranjpe</p>