MONTREAL - A group of Quebec businesspeople has taken another small step toward bringing a National Basketball Association franchise to Montreal - even though there are currently no plans for an expansion of the league.

Representatives of the group held a news conference today to announce that they have been preparing a financial package and talking to potential Canadian and foreign investors.

Former federal cabinet minister Michael Fortier, a key member of the group, acknowledges that in the short term the NBA is not considering adding a team to the 30 already in place. But the goal is to be ready when the opportunity arrives.

Fortier estimates an NBA franchise would cost between $US1.5 billion and US$2 billion, but no public funding would be required.

It was also announced that Stephan Cretier, the CEO of the security firm GardaWorld, has agreed to contribute up to 10 per cent of the value of the new team.

Michel Leblanc, head of the Montreal Board of Trade, says his organization will support the group in its efforts to attract investors.