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Pegula to outline plan to buy Sabres
Meeting with NHL today in Raleigh
Deal may be completed in the next few weeks

Billionaire businessman Terry Pegula today is expected to take a major step toward buying the Buffalo Sabres when he meets with the NHL executive committee during All-Star Weekend. He will outline his plans to purchase the franchise for $175 million.

The presentation before the panel is considered one of the last hurdles he must clear before officially assuming ownership from Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano. Pegula is expected to be approved by the executive committee over the next several days before the purchase is voted upon by the full NHL board of governors in the next few weeks.

Pegula has remained quiet about his plans for the past two months and had no comment Friday, spokesman Ben Bouma said via e-mail. However, several league sources confirmed he was preparing to present his plans this morning, before the NHL Board of Governors meeting. The purchase was not included on the board of governors' agenda.

Recent speculation that suggested Pegula would assume ownership after meeting with the full board this weekend was unfounded, as was speculation he would attend the full meeting. He is not eligible to attend the governors meetings until he officially becomes a governor. A league source estimated that Pegula would close on the sale in the next few weeks, or sometime in February, assuming negotiations continue without complications.

Pegula, 59, has had very few major problems in his efforts and would be considered an easy choice to become the Sabres' next owner. He became the 110th wealthiest person in the United States after selling his Pennsylvania-based East Resources for $4.7 billion, which netted him a $3 billion fortune from the natural gas and oil industry.

Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, chairman of Delaware North Cos., in Buffalo, is the chairman of the board of governors and also presides over the executive committee. If the deal is accepted by the committee, as expected, the vote of the board of governors would appear to be a formality. New owners must receive approval from 23 of the 29 other owners, and the vote does not have to occur with all the governors in one room. They can vote by fax.

"It should be a slam dunk," one NHL source said.

Golisano, who pulled the franchise from bankruptcy in 2003 and gave the Sabres financial stability, will make about $100 million off the sale. Pegula is a longtime Sabres fan and was a Western New York resident before moving to Pennsylvania. He has many ties to the area. His wife, Kim, is from Fairport, outside Rochester.

e-mail: bgleason@buffnews.com

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