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George Gillett: No decision on selling Habs or Liverpool stake

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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George Gillett: No decision on selling Habs or Liverpool stake

The Canadian Press
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LONDON - George Gillett says he has not yet made a decision about whether to sell the Montreal Canadiens or his 50 per cent stake in Premier League soccer club Liverpool.

The American has hired financial companies in Canada, the United States and Europe to reassess his varied holdings.

"We have appointed advisers in different countries to assess our assets," Gillett said Tuesday. "We have engaged professionals who are doing some estate planning, it has nothing to do with any decisions to sell any assets.

"We may do some recapitalization, but any links between what we are doing and the situation at Liverpool is incorrect. We have made no decision to sell."

Gillett attended the Canadiens game Tuesday night against the Atlanta Thrashers but sent word through a team spokesman that he would not comment on the matter.

The possibility that the nearly 100-year-old club may be sold has dominated headlines and talks shows since it was first reported on Monday.

At Liverpool, which Gillett co-owns with Dallas Stars owner Tom Hicks, a July deadline is approaching to refinance the loan that funded their takeover two years ago.

That financing package of about 250 million pounds (C$451.6 million) must be renewed after a six-month extension was granted by the Royal Bank of Scotland and U.S. investment bank Wachovia. But RBS recently announced huge losses amid the global economic downturn and may not be in a position to extend further financing.

Liverpool is in second place in the Premier League - one point behind Manchester United - and has reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Selling his Liverpool stake would require the approval of Hicks, but Gillett owns 80.1 per cent of the Canadiens and the Bell Centre.

Gillett bought the arena and his majority stake in the Canadiens for C$275 million with the help of C$140 million in loans from two banks and the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, the province's pension fund manager.

He also owns the Gillett Evernham NASCAR team, event promoter Gillett Entertainment Group, ski resorts, car dealerships and agricultural companies.

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George Gillett: No decision on selling Habs or Liverpool stake