HoopsHype Bruce Levenson rumors

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April 22, 2015 Updates

Billionaire philanthropist Antony Ressler leads a group that has reached an agreement to purchase the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena for an amount believed to be less than $1 billion, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has confirmed. Ressler, 55, is a co-founder of two private equity firms, Apollo Global Management and Ares Management. He is also a minority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers. According to Forbes, he is worth approximately $1.43 billion dollars. Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Steve Kyler: Hawks said to be sold for $730 million --- far cry from the $1.2 billion figure some tossed around. Hawks $730 million price illustrates how much Steve Ballmer overpaid for the Clippers not the new bench mark many hoped teams would command. Twitter @stevekylerNBA

February 26, 2015 Updates

Tampa Bay Rays part-owner Randy Frankel and ComPsych Corp. founder Richard Chaifetz are among the bidders for the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. Some of the bids were for about $900 million, the people said, declining to be specific. The people requested anonymity because the bidding isn’t public. The team, which is on the market after lead owner Bruce Levenson disclosed a racially insensitive e-mail, retained Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Inner Circle Sports to run the sale. Bloomberg

January 12, 2015 Updates

The Hawks have retained investment banks Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports to handle the sale of the team. Sources expect the team's "book," detailing the franchise's assets and liabilities, to be available for the interested groups by the end of this week, or next week at the latest. The Hawks have struggled in recent years to connect with the Atlanta community at large, losing market share to SEC football, NASCAR events and golf tournaments like The Masters in nearby Augusta. But the scarcity of NBA franchises and the potential of a market with 4.72 million people in the city and surrounding counties has a lot of rich people very interested in buying the team. NBA.com

January 8, 2015 Updates

Former National Basketball Association players Junior Bridgeman and Grant Hill are leading a group that will bid on the Atlanta Hawks, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation. They’ve hired New York-based advisory firm Galatioto Sports Partners to explore a purchase, said the person, who requested anonymity because the matter is private. Hill didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment. Sal Galatioto, founder of Galatioto Sports Partners, declined to comment. Bloomberg

The team is also drawing interest from a group that includes BTIG LLC’s Steven Starker and Marquis Jet co-founder Jesse Itzler. “There’s extreme interest,” said Itzler, who became an entrepreneur after rapping under the name Jesse Jaymes, and who lives in Atlanta with his wife Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx Inc. “It’s still preliminary.” Bloomberg

January 5, 2015 Updates

Levenson has already said his group will sell its piece of the team, after the September disclosure of a 2012 e-mail he sent to general manager Danny Ferry decrying the lack of middle class white fans at Hawks games, and his racially-imbued reasoning as to why they weren't coming. For months, the league has been leaning on the Levenson and Gearon groups to come together. Sources said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had Levenson and Gearon up to New York just after the start of the season to try and hammer out a deal, without success. NBA.com

Remember, we thought it would take months -- years, maybe -- before the Clippers' mess was cleaned up and a new owner put in place to replace Donald Sterling. In reality, it took four months from the initial disclosure of Sterling's racially inflammatory remarks in April to the final approval of the sale of the team from Sterling's family to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion in August. But there's no guarantee things will go as planned. This isn't the same as Sterling. The league can't strip anyone in Atlanta of ownership. "There's already ownership in place there," a source with knowledge of the parties' inner workings said over the weekend. "It already is operating. There's nothing the league has to approve. And there's really no leverage the league has over them. You can't force someone to sell unless they violate the rules of the league and its provisions. What Adam does have is the power of persuasion." NBA.com

Gearon, Jr., has strong ties to the franchise; his father spent three decades with the team, rising from general manager to president to chairman of the board. According to the source, the ownership agreement between the parties "gives him a tremendous amount of say for a minority owner." NBA.com

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