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Molson family excited to regain ownership of Montreal Canadiens

American millionaire George Gillett is selling his 80.1% share in the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team to the Molson family for $550 million.

Gillett, who is the co-owner of Liverpool FC, is selling in order to ease the pressure mounting on the English football club he co-owns with fellow American businessman Tom Hicks. The pair have until 24 July to repay the $576 million they owe to the Royal Bank of Scotland and Wachovia financial services.

Geoffrey E Molson (pictured), vice-president of marketing for Molson Coors Brewing Company (MCBC), headed the bid for the ice hockey team. The group of investors assembled to raise the capital for the sale includes Molson's two brothers Andrew and Justin.

Geoffrey said: "This is a very exciting time for our family and we are grateful to the many people and organisations who came forward to offer their collaboration in the development of our proposal."

The Molson family has been tied to the Montreal Canadiens for decades, owning the team between 1957-1971. Molson Inc, the family's brewing company, then owned the team from 1978-2001, when Gillett purchased his 80.1% share.

Molson Inc became MCBC, which has revenues of $4.8 billion and still owns 19.1% of the Montreal Canadiens, in 2005. The Molson brothers and their investors will hold the 80.1% share independently of MCBC.

Both the Molson and Coors families are controlling shareholders at MCBC, where Andrew Molson serves as vice-chairman. The Molson family brewing tradition is 220 years old and Andrew is the seventh generation family member to work in the business.

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