Verbal agreement between Matthew Hulsizer and Dave Checketts
appears to have set wheels in motion for completion of sale
By LOUIE KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- The long-awaited sale of the Blues may finally have reached its climax.
According to multiple sources, principal owner Dave Checketts has a verbal agreement to sell the Blues to Chicago businessman Matthew Hulsizer, long to be rumored as one of the bidders in a sale process dated back to March.
Matthew Hulsizer (middle) has reached a verbal agreement to purchase the
St. Louis Blues from Dave Checketts.
The sale price wasn't currently available, but it is believed that Checketts was looking for as much as $200 million for the Blues, the lease to Scottrade Center, the Peabody Opera House and the American Hockey League's Peoria Rivermen.
According to a pair of those sources, Checketts has signed a letter of intent believed to be with Hulsizer, the CEO of Peak6 Investments, a financial services firm founded in 1997. But the agreement doesn't become binding until the two sides enter a purchase agreement and a sale approval with the NHL.
Checketts, who is the chairman of SCP Worldwide, officially put the Blues up for sale in March when the principal investment group, TowerBrook Capital Partners, decided to divest its 70 percent ownership interest in the franchise. Checketts' group owns 20 percent of the team while minority owner Tom Stillman, who is chairman and CEO of Summit Distributing, Inc., owns 10 percent of the club.
"We expect to have something done by the start of the season," Checketts said in July. "... We expect to have an orderly sale process. It'll be done by the start of the season."
It appears that with a verbal sale agreement, Hulsizer, who as recently as last season unsuccessfully attempted to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes, would become the principal owner/primary investor of the Blues and Checketts would stay on as the team's chairman.
"I haven't been approached by anybody in that way," Checketts previously stated.
TowerBrook and Checketts could not come up to a successful resolution and price that gave Checketts the right of first approval to purchase the majority stake in the team. Checketts and TowerBrook bought the Blues from Bill and Nancy Laurie for a price tag in the neighborhood of $153 million in 2006.
"I had to put the whole thing up for sale and that's where we're headed," Checketts said when in town in July. "... We went through that process for awhile. We didn't find anybody that way, and I had to agree with TowerBrook that I'd put the whole thing up for sale.
"We tried putting together a group, which includes local investors, as well as others with the intention of buying out TowerBrook Capital Partners," Checketts said. "We began negotiations in earnest with TowerBrook and we have been unable to come to an agreement with them on terms that they will accept."
"This is a story that has gone on longer than anyone would have liked it to."
Neither Checketts nor Hulsizer were available for comment Wednesday, but when Checketts made public "the whole thing" was up for sale, he placed the trust of the sale to Game Plan LLC, a Boston-based firm led by founder and chairman Robert Caporale.
"I know everybody wants me to get this thing (in St. Louis) concluded, but we're working diligently in that direction," Checketts said.
Game Plan set a deadline of Aug. 22 for prospective buyers to submit informal bids. There were initial offers from a group led by Stillman, whose reported offer of $110 million was rejected. Hulsizer initially submitted an undisclosed offer before the self-imposed deadline that was rejected. There was also a recent bid from Calgary businessman Max Chambers, who has gone on record saying his group submitted an offer of $167 million that was also turned down.
Hulsizer's bio: (http://www.peak6.com/leaders/founders/matthew-hulsizer/).