Report: NHL negotiating sale of Lightning to hedge fund manager

The Hockey News reported on their web site earlier this evening that the National Hockey League is negotiating with a Boston hedge fund manager to purchase the Lightning, control of the St. Pete Times Forum and land adjacent to the Forum.

According to multiple sources, the NHL is negotiating the sale of the Lightning and the five-acre parcel of land adjacent to the St. (Pete) Times Forum from the OK Hockey Group to Boston-based financier Jeffrey Vinik for an estimated price of $170 million.

The two groups met six weeks ago and while there are conflicting reports on whether or not a sale is imminent, it’s believed Vinik has emerged as a front-runner to buy the team and is serious in his offer.

Damian Cristodero at the St. Petersburg Times (and researcher Shirl Kennedy) gave some more background (and sources) on Jeffery Vinik:

Vinik, 50, a limited partner with the Red Sox, is better known in financial circles. The New Jersey native, Duke graduate and Harvard MBA managed the Fidelity Magellan Fund in the mid and late '90s. He is the principal owner of Vinik Asset Management.

Its Sept. 30 quarterly report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicated the company is managing holdings of $1.7 billion.

A March 2006 Boston Magazine article put Vinik's worth at $515 million.

Whether Vinik's interest is from a passion for hockey or an eye for an investment is unclear.

Hal Lindquist, a senior managing director at the Blackstone Group in New York who has invested with Vinik, said he had not heard about Vinik and the Lightning but deadpanned, "I know he coaches his son's soccer team."

We'll have more on this tomorrow as the story unfolds...  But this is not the kind of news that will encourage Lightning fans...  Not until the mystery guest presents himself....  And even then, there will be doubt long before there is any encouragement.

Hat tip to Bill Philp.

[Note by John Fontana, 01/29/10 12:11 AM EST ] For those who may be so inclined, there is a lengthy article here from NASDAQ reporting on Vinik's business dealings.  I have little savvy with this financial stuff, but others may see it as a way to shine the light on the guy's thinking.]

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