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W. Brett Wilson buys into Predators

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Canadian businessman W. Brett Wilson has bought into the ownership group of the Nashville Predators and the company that manages the arena where the team plays.

Predators chairman Tom Cigarran announced Wednesday that Wilson has closed on his purchase of approximately 5 percent of the ownership group, and he says they are talking with other potential investors, mostly from Tennessee.

"Adding the right partners is an important part of our previously stated long-term business strategy to strengthen the financial foundation of the franchise," Cigarran said in a statement. "We know Brett shares our passion for both the franchise and community, and is as committed as we are to making sure the team remains in Nashville."

Wilson currently is chairman of Canoe Financial, an investment firm with more than $2 billion in assets and based in Calgary. He also co-founded FirstEnergy Capital Corp. investment bank. He also is a co-owner of two other sports franchises, the Double-A Jackson Generals and Derby County F.C. soccer in England.

Since 2007, Wilson has owned a home that is a couple of miles away from the arena where the Predators play.

"Joining the Preds ownership group has been contemplated and studied for quite some time," Wilson said. "The local owners and I are totally committed to keeping the NHL in Nashville. The business model, both on and off the ice, continues to evolve and improve, and I have been captivated by the market's enthusiasm for our team. Now is the right time for me to join and contribute in my way in helping the organization continue growing from a contender into a Stanley Cup champion."

Wilson becomes one of only two owners in the group not from Tennessee, with the local owners holding more than 90 percent of the team. Finalizing Wilson's ownership share comes nearly two weeks after the Predators signed goaltender Pekka Rinne to a seven-year, $49 million contract that is the biggest in franchise history.

Cigarran has said the Predators also intend to re-sign defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber and would have the money to do just that.

The Predators began play in 1998 and played their 1,000th regular-season game last weekend. Nashville has reached the playoffs six of the past seven seasons and have the third-most wins in the NHL since 2005-06.