Bruce Levenson Rumors

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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.”
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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.
The Washington-based group, led by controlling owner Bruce Levenson, announced in September that it would sell its 50.1 stake following the discovery of a racially inflammatory email that rocked the franchise. An independent investigation discovered an e-mail Levenson wrote in 2012 that included racist remarks about the fan base and game operations. Levenson’s partners Ed Peskowitz and Todd Foreman are also stakeholders in the original group known as the Atlanta Spirit. Agreements are also in place for the Atlanta-based group of Michael Gearon Jr. and Sr., Rutherford Seydel and Beau Turner to sell its stake. The group owned a combined 32.3 percent of the franchise. In addition, the New York-based group, led by Steven Price, has agreed to sell its 17.6 percent stake.
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When you’re worth around $20 billion you can write a check for $2 billion without flinching. But does that mean the Clippers are worth $2 billion, or that other NBA teams should see their revenue multiples expand to reflect this deal? I doubt it. But we may get a good idea if the Atlanta Hawks are soon sold. Bruce Levenson’s group is selling its controlling interest in the team and some believe the sale price will value the team at over $1 billion, or about eight times revenue.