WEDNESDAY, 1:20pm: Investor and Lionsgate Entertainment chairman Mark Rachesky is joining the Frankel-Itzler-Starker bid, league sources tell Marc Stein of ESPN.com. At least one of the groups with interest in the Hawks is willing to pay more than $900MM, a source tells Stein, though it’s unclear if that total would include bonds tied to the arena that aren’t part of the franchise value, as Mike Ozanian of Forbes.com recently suggested. Stein also adds the names of Indonesian sports and media moguls Erick Thohir and Handy Poernomo Soetedjo to the group fronted by baseball legend Hank Aaron. Wilkins, the Hawks icon and current front office executive for the team, is expected to be a “prominent” member of a bidding group, Stein also hears.
12:23pm: Geffen tells Peter Newcomb of Bloomberg News that he’s not interested in buying the Nets, as Newcomb’s Bloomberg colleague Scott Soshnick tweets.
MONDAY, 8:54am: The Chinese investment conglomerate Fosun is bidding for the Hawks and has interest in the Nets, report Josh Kosman and Claire Atkinson of the New York Post, who hear from a sports banker who believes the Hawks will strike a deal with a new owner in six weeks. The investment fund for the government of the nation of Qatar and former interim Clippers CEO Dick Parsons are also among those interested in the Nets, a franchise that multiple sports bankers believe would sell for as much as $2 billion, according to Kosman and Atkinson. Impresario David Geffen is also considering a run at the Nets, Kosman and Atkinson write, renewing apparent interest from the past. The Post scribes also identify “two wealthy U.S. families” as parties eyeing the Nets.
One of the bankers to whom Kosman and Atkinson spoke disputed an earlier report that the NBA is mandating that current Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov attach his 45% stake in the Barclays Center to his 80% share of the team, saying that the league hasn’t made a decision. The league is promising a verdict on the matter soon, but the confusion over just what’s a part of the sale is causing complication, Kosman and Atkinson hear. Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Enterprises has confirmed it’s shopping its 20% stake in the team, though Prokhorov’s camp has been reluctant to make the same pronouncement regarding its interest in a sale.
The Qatari investment fund seems an unusual bidder, though it has existing connections to the sports world. It owns a French soccer team, as Robert Windrem of NetsDaily points out. It also has ties to the NBA through beIN, a French sports television channel, the NetsDaily scribe tweets. Others linked to the Nets include former Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, investor David Bonderman and hedge fund manager David Einhorn, as well as Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
The same banker who suggested the Hawks sale will be complete in six weeks tells Kosman and Atkinson that he believes the NBA would like to see the Hawks sold before the Nets are. A deadline for preliminary bids for the Atlanta franchise passed last week, and a long list of potential buyers exists. Tampa Bay Rays part-owner Randy Frankel is teaming with rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jesse Itzler and brokerage firm founder Steven Starker in one bid. Former NBA players Grant Hill and Junior Bridgeman, former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz are partnering for another. The owners of Atlanta’s WNBA team, Kelly Loeffler and Mary Brock, along with their husbands, Jeffrey Sprecher and John Brock, are also reportedly interested in bidding for the Hawks. Former players Dominique Wilkins, Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber, former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien, attorney Doug Davis and Seattle-focused investors Chris Hansen and Thomas Tull have been linked to the club, too.