Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Blues in search of new investors

TowerBrook Capital Partners selling stake in franchise

ST. LOUIS -- The largest investor in the Blues' ownership group has decided to pull ranks and sell its stake in the hockey club.

TowerBrook Capital Partners, an investment equity firm with a majority base in New York along with San Francisco and London, are reportedly going to remain with Dave Checketts and the Sports Capital Partners Worldwide until new investors are found.

Eric Gelfand, a spokesman for SCP Worldwide, said in an email that, "The daily operations of the organization will not be affected and the team is not for sale."

SCP Worldwide has hired Citibank sports agency group to help in the process of finding new investors. There is no timetable in finding new investors at this time.

"When we purchased the St. Louis Blues in 2006, we were joined by a strong group of our friends and investors," SCP Worldwide said in a statement. "Later, we were fortunate to add local ownership when Tom Stillman joined us. Together, we have built a strong foundation for success and stability in St. Louis. We knew at the outset that our private equity partners at TowerBrook had defined investment and operational objectives, which have now been reached. Therefore, we at SCP have retained the sports agency group at Citibank to help us find new investment partners to join us and Tom Stillman as we continue to remain committed to the City of St. Louis and the St. Louis Blues organization."

Blues fans may question the move now, since the franchise is well on its way to becoming a profitable turnaround after the debacle of Bill and Nancy Laurie's final few years with the club when it was reported the Blues were losing in excess of $30 million per season.

But TowerBrook has had a history, as do many private equity firms, of specializing in short-term investments instead of long-term ones.

"Dave Checketts and SCP Worldwide have done a remarkable job of restoring the pride and passion of the St. Louis Blues," TowerBrook officials said in a statement. "We joined this investment group because of the many past investment successes we have had with Dave. We knew that he, along with his partners, would help revive this franchise and they have delivered since day one. It now sits on a very solid foundation, one that we have been very proud to help rebuild."

The Blues (40-32-10) finished five points out of a playoff spot this past season and this decision will not affect the day-to-day operations of the management team. Therefore, the Blues will pursue all means necessary in improving the hockey club and focus on the goal of bringing the Stanley Cup to St. Louis through free agency and/or trades.

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