The Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy case is still open. Five months after its owners filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition, the auction of the National Hockey League team is still pending. Jim Balsillie, an executive of Research In Motion, is now offering 242.5 million dollars (up from his previous offer of 212.5 million). The NHL, wanting to ensure that Balsillie does not buy the team, has also submitted a bid, offering 140 million dollars.

Despite the generous difference between the two bids, Judge Baum, presiding over the case, has yet to approve Balsillie’s. Why? Because the NHL, through its bylaws, has expressly rejected the prospect of Balsillie as an NHL team owner. Thus, an approval of Balsillie’s bid by Judge Baum would require an overruling of the NHL’s exercise of its bylaws. To resolve the issue (and possibly save Judge Baum from having to make the underlying decision), the team’s current owners have filed a motion asking Judge Baum to compel the NHL to mediate the issue. The NHL has forcefully objected, arguing in court filings that there is “no authority whatsoever for compelling mediation in these circumstances.” The NHL has further stated that its rejection of Balsillie as an owner “is not something that the NHL can compromise, and it is not something the NHL is willing to mediate.”

We’ll keep you updated as the case is resolved.

Faisal Delawalla

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