Only Three Initial Bidders For Bills

10:36am: A source tells the Buffalo News that Golisano still believes he is eligible to go after the Bills, and could submit a bid to Morgan Stanley later this week.

“His plan is to call Morgan Stanley and ask: ‘Are you interested in another bid?'” the source said. “He’s not out of it yet.”

The report also notes that Business First reporter James Fink said on WBEN radio this morning that he hears Pegula’s bid was worth $1.3 billion.

8:30am: Initial bids for the Buffalo Bills were due yesterday afternoon, and according to John Kryk of the Toronto Sun, two surprising developments could have a significant impact on the sale process. Kryk reports that former Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano, who had been viewed as a prospective buyer for the Bills, did not submit a bid in advance of the deadline, and that Morgan Stanley – the investment bank overseeing the sale – only received three initial bids in total.

Per Kryk, those three bids came from groups that had been viewed as the favorites: Jon Bon Jovi, MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum, and the Rogers family; current Sabres owner Terry Pegula, who is said to have bid more than $1 billion, according to Josh Kosman and Lois Weiss of the New York Post; and multi-billionaire Donald Trump. A report over the weekend indicated that it would be a surprise if Bon Jovi’s group and Pegula weren’t the two finalists, with Trump himself admitting this week that he didn’t view himself as a frontrunner in the process.

As Kryk notes, Golisano had stated earlier this summer that he intended to bid on the Bills, and sources as recently as two weeks ago were saying the same thing, so his silence is unusual. Kryk speculates that Golisano, who is viewed as “a renegade when it comes to high-stakes business deals,” may have been making a statement on something he dislikes about the process, and could still end up getting involved. A source tells Jerry Zremski of the Buffalo News that Golisano and others may wait until the last minute to bid in order to get a sense of who is involved and what they’re willing to invest — perhaps those prospective bidders didn’t view Tuesday as a hard deadline.

Still, for Golisano or others to re-enter the mix, Morgan Stanley may have to quietly extend that deadline for initial bids before moving on to the next step of the process. Although Kryk points out that the firm had reportedly been “combing Wall Street” over the last couple months in an effort to identify potential bidders to add to the process, it seems that search came up empty.

We’ll have to wait and see what Morgan Stanley’s next step is, but for now, it appears as if the bidders who submitted notices of intent yesterday could become the finalists for the Bills by default.

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