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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

Jim Balsillie, chairman and co-CEO of Research in Motion, the Canadian-based company behind the popular BlackBerry products and services, has signed a purchase agreement to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins.

In addition to his success in the business world, Balsillie, 45, is an amateur hockey player and a noted philanthropist. Time Magazine named him to the “Time 100” as one of the most influential people in the world in 2005. Balsillie and his business partner at RIM also were recently named Canada’s CEOs of the Year.

“Jim is a tremendous businessman and a passionate hockey fan, and I think he is going to be a great owner for the Pittsburgh Penguins,” Mario Lemieux said in a statement on behalf of Lemieux Group LP, the current Penguins ownership. “I know his hope is to get a new arena deal and keep the team here in Pittsburgh for the long-term.”

The remaining step for Balsillie is to get the approval of the NHL Board of Governors, a process which is expected to be completed this fall.

Balsillie will attend the Penguins’ regular-season opener tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers at Mellon Arena.

“I love the game of hockey and I am very excited to sign this agreement to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins and become a part of the National Hockey League,” Balsillie said. “Pittsburgh has shown itself to be an outstanding hockey market, and the team has an incredible tradition of success and fan support. With young stars such as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, we all know the Penguins have a very bright future on the ice. I look forward to owning this team for a long time in Pittsburgh.”

A native of Peterborough, Ontario, Balsillie earned a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Harvard University. Before joining Research in Motion (RIM), he was executive vice president with Sutherland-Schultz in Kitchener, Ontario and held several executive positions with Ernst & Young in Toronto.

Balsillie joined RIM in 1992 and is responsible for driving corporate strategy, business development, marketing, sales and finance. RIM is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative wireless solutions for the worldwide mobile communications market.

In 2002, Balsillie announced a major endowment gift to establish the Center for International Governance Innovation, a non-profit, non-partisan research institution dedicated to improving approaches to international policy issues in the new global economy. He also is a founding donor of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, a patron of the Grand River Hospital (where his gift established a new cancer care center) and a founder of the Waterloo Regional Children’s Museum.

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