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NHL owner, NBA team founder among those who signed Bills nondisclosure agreement; Hyatt hotel heirs have been sniffing around

The Buffalo News has learned the names of some previously unreported parties involved in the Buffalo Bills sales process.

NHL sources (no, that's not a typo) inform me at least two Canadian-based suitors -- in addition to the group led by rock star Jon Bon Jovi -- have explored a Bills purchase.

Sources reveal the Aquilini family and John Bitove have gone deep enough into the process to at least have signed the Bills' nondisclosure agreement.

The Aquilini Investment Group owns the Vancouver Canucks. Francesco Aquilini is the chairman, with brothers Roberto Aquilini and Paolo Aquilini serving as alternate governors.


UPDATE: Canucks chairman confirms Bills interest but announces his family's not in the hunt


Bitove founded the Toronto Raptors and served as president of Toronto's 2008 Olympic bid. He is in the satellite radio and restaurant businesses. He owns hundreds of Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell franchises across Canada.

It's unclear whether the Aquilinis or Bitove are scheduled to meet with the Bills' trust for face-to-face presentations that began Wednesday. A spokesperson for Bitove said he was traveling and unavailable to comment.

The Bills' trust was alarmed by the limited interest generated by the July 29 deadline for prospective owners to file non-binding initial bids. The trust and the bank handling the sale, Morgan Stanley, have circled back to coax involvement from more candidates.

NFL sources have told me about 60 nondisclosure agreements were distributed, but only 16 to 20 were signed and returned.

Another possible suitor is the Chicago-based Pritzker family, heirs to the Hyatt Hotel fortune. Forbes reported the Pritzker family features 11 billionaires.

Karen Pritzker and husband Michael Vlock, big investors in Apple Inc., have backed real-estate projects in Buffalo. They have invested in many of local developer Nick Sinatra's downtown properties.

The Bills' trust has discussed a sale with the Pritzker/Vlock group on some level, although it's unknown if the group signed the nondisclosure agreement necessary to move forward with the sales process.

The News also has confirmed that food-and-beverage magnate Dean Metropoulos did sign the trust's nondisclosure agreement.

Metropoulos was runner-up to Shad Khan for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011.

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