RIM's Balsillie Loses Bid To Buy Bankrupt Hockey Team

Blackberry billionaire James Balsillie has lost his fight for control of the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes hockey team, about which I wrote last month. An Arizona bankruptcy judge today rejected both of two competing bids for the team, one by Balsillie, co-CEO of Canadian wireless giant RIMM and one by the National Hockey League.

As Canada’s National Post reported today, the bankruptcy judge, Redfield T. Baum, said he rejected a $212.5 million bid by Balsillie’s PSE Sports to take control of the team and to move it to Hamilton, Ontario against the wishes of the league. Baum rejected Balsillie’s bid “with prejudice” saying that the interests of the league could not be adequately protected.

Baum also rejected a smaller $140 million bid by the NHL without prejudice saying that the league could “probably cure the defect in its bid.”

This is the third time that Balsillie, a avowed hockey fanatic, has sought to buy an NHL team. The first was the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006, and the second was a move on the Nashville Predators in 2007. Balsillie walked away from both deals late in the process.

The decision effectively slams the door on any further hope that Balsillie had in winning the drawn-out legal fight for control of the team. But you can bet it’s not the last time he tries. As he told me in August: “It’s no secret that there are other financially troubled teams out there … And I’ve certainly been approached by other owners.”

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