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NHL governors approve sale of Oilers to Edmonton billionaire Daryl Katz @NHLdotcom

EDMONTON - Canadian pharmacy billionaire Daryl Katz has received the final OK from the National Hockey League to purchase the Edmonton Oilers.

"I am very pleased to have received the Board of Governors' unanimous approval," Katz said in an e-mail to reporters Wednesday. "We look forward to closing the transaction on or before June 30th and gearing up for the coming season."

The league's board of governors signed off on the Katz bid during meetings in New York.

The reclusive 46-year-old Edmonton resident took over the franchise in February after all 34 members of the team's then-ownership group agreed to sell it to him in a C$200-million deal.

Katz has said little about what direction he will take the team - which has missed the playoffs for two consecutive years - but has said it would benefit from more aggressive, hands-on management and fewer committee meetings.

He has promised to keep the team in the Alberta capital and has pledged to pony up $100 million for a new rink to replace the aging Rexall Place.

He has also promised to build the team a practice facility and spend the maximum allowed under the salary cap.

Katz, a born and bred Edmontonian, got his law degree at the University of Alberta then launched his pharmacy business while watching the Wayne Gretzky-led Oilers win Stanley Cups in the 1980s.

His privately owned company, the Katz Group, is the largest retail pharmacy network in Canada and one of the largest chains on the continent. It comprises 1,800 pharmacies and more than 15,000 employees, with annual sales exceeding $7 billion.

His personal worth is estimated at $2 billion. He and his wife and twin children live in a $20-million mansion in the city's river valley, complete with two swimming pools and 11 bathrooms.

Katz has long been known for his philanthropic work. He has donated $7 million to his alma mater and supports an annual golf tournament to help sick children.

He keeps a low profile, granting few media interviews. His corporate bio contains scant details and no birthdate.

He had been trying for close to a year to buy the team in a series of five escalating offers that began in March 2007 at C$145 million.

The bids fractured the Edmonton Investors Group and led to a last-minute, but failed, counter-takeover bid by a splinter group of owners earlier this year.

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