September 24, 2009 / 10:34 AM / in 8 years

Balsillie strengthens bid for Phoenix Coyotes

BANGALORE (Reuters) - Canadian billionaire and Research in Motion Ltd Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie on Wednesday enhanced his $242.5 million bid for the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes ice hockey team, court documents showed.

<p>Research In Motion Co-Chief Executive Officer Jim Balsillie addresses the audience about 'Entrepreneurship and Innovation' during the National Summit at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan June 17, 2009. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook</p>

In a filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Phoenix, Balsillie’s lawyers added new terms to the bid.

Balsillie, who had offered Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, $50 million to address concerns and mitigate losses connected with the relocation of the team, said he would pay $25 million of that amount immediately after the court approves the sale.

Glendale would be allowed to keep the $25 million even if the National Hockey League (NHL) wins an appeal and Balsillie loses his bid to buy the team.

Balsillie’s lawyers said they understood that Glendale believed that it could find a buyer to keep the team from moving, and offered to defer their bid’s closing date till after December 31, 2009, and up to June 30, 2010.

Balsillie would drop his bid if another buyer managed within that time to match the NHL’s $140 million offer and paid the debtor-in-possession financing costs for the present hockey season.

The Canadian billionaire offered to buy the Coyotes when they filed for bankruptcy protection in May on condition he be able to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario. Neither he nor the team had warned the league in advance of their plans.

Balsillie has bid $242.5 million offer for the Coyotes but in July, the NHL’s board of governors unanimously rejected Balsillie as a potential owner and the league dismissed his bid, saying he lacked the good character to own a team.

The NHL placed its own $140 million last month in an effort to remove the team from the oversight of the bankruptcy court and then resell it.

The league has accused Balsillie of trying to use the bankruptcy system to circumvent its authority to decide where a team can move.

Balsillie clashed with the NHL over previous attempts to buy the Nashville Predators and the Pittsburgh Penguins and move a team to Canada.

The case is in Re: Dewey Ranch Hockey LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Arizona, No. 09-09488.

Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Rupert Winchester

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