APRIL 17TH, 7:45pm: The league’s owners are pleased with a potential sale amount in the $900MM range, though prospective buyers aren’t offering that amount yet, Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today tweets. The group fronted by Kaplan are the current favorites to purchase the team, Zillgitt adds. The Bridgeman group is not out of the running yet, Zillgitt notes in a second tweet.
APRIL 15TH,8:15pm: Ressler and Hill have replaced Rachesky in the group that includes Starker and Itzler, with Ressler now the leader of that bid, as Soshnick explains in a full piece.
APRIL 14TH: Ares Capital’s Tony Ressler, who is fronting a group that includes Hill, is making a bid to purchase the Hawks, Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg News tweets. Mark Rachesky is also no longer involved with bidding for the team, Soshnick adds.
APRIL 7TH: The group that included Hill has given up its pursuit of the team, two sources tell USA Today’s Jeff Zillgitt. Presumably, that’s the group Vivlamore referred to that believed it was out of the running. Zillgitt identified Hill and Bridgeman as the leaders of the now defunct bid, of which Bryan Colangelo and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz were also reportedly a part. Zillgitt also refers to Kaplan and Rachesky as the leaders of their respective bidding groups.
APRIL 3RD: A bidding group that involves baseball legend Hank Aaron as well as former Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien and current Grizzlies minority owner Steve Kaplan is one of two that have become favorites to win control of the Hawks, reports Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Investor and Lionsgate Entertainment chairman Mark Rachesky, brokerage firm founder Steven Starker and rapper-turned-entrepreneur Jesse Itzler are principles in the other, as Vivlamore details. There’s a deadline of April 10th for final bids, according to Vivlamore, though that date is flexible, and Vivlamore suggests there’s a distinct possibility that the process drags on into June.
Tampa Bay Rays part-owner Randy Frankel is also reportedly a member of the Rachesky-Starker-Itzler group, while Indonesian sports and media moguls Erick Thohir and Handy Poernomo Soetedjo are in the Aaron-Levien-Kaplan partnership. A long list of other names have been connected to the sale since controlling owner Bruce Levenson announced in September that he would sell the team after he self-reported racially charged emails that he had sent. The team’s other ownership groups eventually agreed to sell their stakes, too, putting 100% of the franchise on the market. Preliminary offers have reportedly ranged as high as about $800MM.
One group of bidders believes its out of the running after a long gap in communication with the search firms that are facilitating the sale on behalf of the existing owners, according to Vivlamore. Another group has expressed displeasure with Philips Arena, as Vivlamore details.
Former Suns and Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo, former players Grant Hill and junior Bridgeman and neuropsychologist Richard Chaifetz are reportedly teaming for a bid. Dominique Wilkins has been expected to be a prominent part of one of the groups. Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Webber have also reportedly held interest. Kelly Loeffler and Mary Brock, who own Atlanta’s WNBA team, were also reportedly interested in bidding for the Hawks, along with their husbands, Jeffrey Sprecher and John Brock. Attorney Doug Davis is apparently in the mix, too. Investors Thomas Tull and Chris Hansen were seemingly poised to mount separate longshot bids to buy the Hawks and move them to Seattle, though commissioner Adam Silver has insisted the team will stay put. The Chinese investment conglomerate Fosun has also reportedly bid for the team.