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Molson brothers and Quebecor table separate bids for Montreal Canadiens

MONTREAL - Two rival bids for the Montreal Canadiens emerged from business heavyweights on Wednesday - one from three Molson brothers and the other from a consortium spearheaded by Quebecor Media.

The Molson brothers confirmed they have made an offer to buy the Canadiens, the Gillett Entertainment Centre and the Bell Centre, where the Habs play their home games.

Shortly after, Quebecor Media, a subsidiary of Quebecor Inc. (TSX:QBR. A, TSX:QBR.B) issued a statement saying it had tabled a joint offer with the Solidarity Fund of the Quebec Federation of Labour and with a company owned by Rene Angelil, Celine Dion's husband and manager.

Geoff, Andrew and Justin Molson say their bid was delivered to American George Gillett, who owns the Bell Centre and about 80 per cent of the National Hockey League team.

Geoff Molson says he and his brothers have assembled a "solid and credible" group of investors to bolster their bid.

The offer "has all the ingredients" needed to satisfy both the seller and the NHL, he said.

He refused to comment further on the pending deal, citing a confidentiality agreement signed by all parties involved.

Molson Coors (TSX:TPR.B) already owns a 20 per cent stake in the franchise.

Quebecor president Pierre Karl Peladeau, meanwhile called the Canadiens "one of the most prestigious and iconic sports franchises in the world."

"The team has been part and parcel of our history for 100 years," he said in his statement. "We therefore regard this as a golden opportunity for a Quebec group to return this grand institution to local ownership."

Gillett said earlier this spring he would seek advice from financial firms in Canada and elsewhere about how he might maximize his holdings.

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