Finally, it seems, the NHL is close to approving another Predators investor.
At Wednesday's Skate of the Union event at Bridgestone Arena, team chairman Tom Cigarran said he expects the league to give the final approvals to the investment of Canadian billionaire entrepreneur W. Brett Wilson by September.
Wilson made his loonies as an investment banker funding oil and gas exploration before branching off to form Canoe Investments, a private-equity firm reportedly worth $1.5 billion. He co-owns — along with partial Predators owner David Freeman — a minor-league baseball team and an English soccer team and has been seeking approval as a member of Nashville's ownership group for nearly three years.
The NHL originally balked at his buy-in, gunshy in the wake of fellow Canadian Jim Balsillie's play to purchase the Predators and move them north of the border. According to his website, which includes a whole section dedicated to Nashville's team, Wilson has assured the NHL he has no intentions of moving the team. Nevertheless, approval for the buy-in has been in limbo, apparently until now.
The news seemed to come as a surprise to Wilson, who is vacationing in Thailand. When he learned via Twitter of Cigarran's comments, he said he would "have to give them a call." Asked to clarify if he would be calling the league or the team ownership, he said, "Both."
In addition, Cigarran said the ownership group has set a target of raising $20 million $25 million in new equity. Predators COO Sean Henry said the "goal is to bring equity from local individuals," be that a new investor or increased investment from the existing ownership.