Research in Motion Ltd Co-Chief Executive James Balsillie will find out on Wednesday whether his bid for the National Hockey League's Phoenix Coyotes will be included in an auction set for next week in federal bankruptcy court in Arizona.
The Canadian billionaire offered to pay $212.5 million for the money-losing Coyotes in May when the team filed for bankruptcy protection, on condition that he be allowed to move the franchise to the Canadian province of Ontario.
But the NHL and Balsillie have locked heads over his plans. In July, the NHL deemed Balsillie's offer inadmissible, saying he lacked the good character and integrity to own a franchise, according to a court filing. NHL owners voted 26-0 to reject Balsillie as a potential owner.
Judge Redfield Baum of U.S. Bankruptcy Court is expected to decide at a hearing in Phoenix on Wednesday whether to include Balsillie's bid despite the NHL owners' vote.
Balsillie has failed in previous years in attempts to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators franchises to move a hockey team to Canada.
The NHL placed a $140 million bid for the Coyotes last week in an effort to take the team out of the oversight of the bankruptcy court and regain control over the sale's process. If it won the September 10 auction, the NHL said it would resell the team.
In addition to the Balsillie and NHL bids, the other bidder is Ice Edge Holdings LLC, a group that includes current Coyotes coach and part owner Wayne Gretzky, hockey's all-time leading scorer. Its $150 million offer would keep the Coyotes in the Phoenix area, but have them possibly play a few home games in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Quebec City; or Halifax, Nova Scotia.
The team has never made a profit since moving from Winnipeg in 1996.
The case is in Re: Dewey Ranch Hockey LLC, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Arizona, No. 09-09488.
(Reporting by Phil Wahba, additional reporting by Ben Klayman in Chicago; editing by Gerald E. McCormick)