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Lemieux May Miss Friday Deadline

July 14, 1999

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Mario Lemieux may miss Friday’s court-imposed deadline to put together a $50 million offer to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins as he wrangles over terms with one key investor in his proposal, the Tribune-Review of Pittsburgh reported Wednesday.

Lemieux’s lawyers were expected to ask U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Bernard Markovitz for an extension on the deadline, believing that the delay is only needed to work out some details. The move is not expected to threaten the Hall of Fame player’s purchase of the team, the newspaper reported.

``We knew from the start that it would take a while to put the deal together,″ said William Daly, NHL senior vice president for legal affairs. ``It’s not at all unusual in a deal of this size.″

Two of Lemieux’s attorneys _ Chuck Greenberg and Douglas Campbell _ did not return telephone calls to The Associated Press on Wednesday, but sources involved in the sale told the Tribune-Review that negotiations are continuing with one key investor, Los Angeles supermarket executive Ronald Burkle.

Burkle was expected to put up $20 million of the $50 million offer, but Greenberg refused to tell the newspaper how much Lemieux had received in commitments from investors.

``We’re dealing with issues as they come up,″ Campbell said. ``So far, we haven’t seen anything we can’t solve.″

Burkle, 46, is the former chairman of Fred Meyer Inc., based in Portland, Ore. It was the fifth-largest grocery store chain in the country when it merged with Kroger Corp. this spring. Burkle’s personal worth has been estimated at $1 billion.

A spokesman for Burkle, Ari Swiller, said he did not know of any issues that would delay the deal.

``All systems are go on this end,″ he said.

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