Meridian structures and helps finance acquisition of NHL Coyotes
(Calgary, Alberta) Meridian International Merchant Capital Inc., of Calgary, Alberta, (Meridian) announced the successful completion of its involvement in the acquisition of the Phoenix Coyotes by Renaissance Sports and Entertainment. LLC, from the NHL. MIMC was exclusive advisor to certain of the eventual ownership interests including current President and CEO, Anthony LeBlanc. This is the second NHL transaction in which Meridian has been successfully involved, having previously represented certain shareholders in the 2008 acquisition of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“This is a superb example of creative teamwork and a relentless attitude to make a deal happen to keep NHL hockey in the Valley,” commented Keith Turner, President and CEO of Meridian. “We are very grateful for the support and cooperation of our business and funding partners, to the City of Glendale, and especially for the undying support of the NHL, through Commissioner Bettman and his team.”
“It was shortly after I left the Calgary Flames Executive that I visited Glendale to evaluate the opportunity,” said Randy Lennon, who early in 2006 co-founded Meridian Merchant Capital with international investment banker Keith Turner. “I viewed Phoenix as such an important market for the NHL and winter holiday destination or winter home for literally hundreds of thousands of hockey-mad western Canadians. It just made sense to me that wealthy western Canadians should buy the team.”
Over the years the idea was pitched to high net worth western Canadians, including many icons of the Calgary oil and gas community. “Some of the many potential investors who passed on the Coyotes made investments in other NHL franchises and professional sports teams.”
Meridian’s view was that Glendale and the larger Phoenix area was viable for NHL hockey and represented an important US TV market for the league. Competitive teams with strong management were successful in other so called “sunbelt markets” in California, Dallas, Nashville, and even Florida, where Meridian had experience in raising equity for the acquisition of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
When the Ice Edge group surfaced four years ago with a plan to buy the Coyotes and play some home games in Saskatoon, Lennon contacted the group and offered to join forces. By that time Meridian CEO Keith Turner had come up with an innovative financing structure that would monetize the proposed City of Glendale contract to reduce the amount of investment required to buy the team. Meridian was retained by the Ice Edge group and brought a term sheet to the table from a major international financial institution for $85 million.
Ice Edge was not successful in acquiring the team, but Ice Edge principal Anthony LeBlanc retained Meridian again in August of 2012 to make another attempt. This time around Keith Turner worked with a New York group to once again pitch various financial institutions on the innovative structure.
In a Calgary Herald article, Leblanc’s partner and Calgary business leader George Gosbee called the transaction one of the most complicated he’d ever been involved with.
“We worked on this for years, and the deal took many twists and turns, but in the end it turned out to be a win for the NHL, the City of Glendale, the lenders, investors, and of course hockey fans in Phoenix,” added Turner. “We are proud to have played our role in helping our client and partner Anthony LeBlanc and his group finally achieve their objective.”
Meridian looks forward to hosting its clients and capital partners in the Meridian Suite at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale Arizona this season. Go ‘Yotes!”