After Hawks majority owner Bruce Levenson self-reported an incriminating email this past summer, he agreed to put his 50.1 percent controlling interest in the franchise up for sale. The email was discovered during a team audit after GM Danny Ferry made racist remarks about Luol Deng during a conference call with owners in teh summer of 2014 Now, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Chris Vivlamore, the entire 100 percent stake in the Hawks will be up for sale next week.
Originally, it was just going to be Levenson’s 50.1 percent controlling interest in the team — along with his two partners in the original group known as the Atlanta Spirit. But the Atlanta-based group spearheaded by Michael Gearon, Jr. with 32.3 percent stake and Steven Price‘s New York-based group with 17.6 percent ownership stake have also been included in the sale. This means full ownership of the franchise will be getting a complete makeover, rather than just Levenson’s sovereign portion.
Here’s Vivlamore with the scoop:
According to person familiar with the situation, agreements have been reached between all three ownership groups to sell their complete stakes in the team. Those agreements have been approved by the NBA.
The team will be officially on the market next week, according to a league source. The investment banking firm Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports has been retained to handle the sale process. The firm can now begin the process of gathering and vetting prospective buyers. Estimations are the franchise could be sold for upwards of $600 million dollars.
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, Michael Gearon Jr. and Sr., Rutherford Seydel and Beau Turner, to sell its 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.
The sale process has been on-going since September as the ownership groups worked on how much of the franchise would be made available of an organization with a tarnished image.
The Hawks refused to comment on the story:
The Bucks — ranked dead last by Forbes with a value close to $400 million last Jan. — were sold for $550 million last year. Estimations from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution value the Hawks at around $600 million, but if the Milwaukee sale, and the $2 billion price tag for the Clippers, is any indication, they could be sold for a lot more than that figure.
The news of the impending sale comes as the Hawks have shot out to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference, just a half game back of Toronto at 23-8 on the year. GM Danny Ferry is still in seclusion after stepping away from the team during the Deng drama, and it’s unclear if he’ll be replaced or step aside. His future is even more up in the air with the news of the team’s impending sale.
Under second-year coach Mike Budenholzer, the Hawks are one of the more entertaining teams in the league despite the lack of a clear-cut superstar. They run a fun offense predicated on floor spacing, and a reliance on the three-point shot, with a special emphasis on sharpshooter Kyle Korver. They also sometimes have a commanding presence inside with Al Horford, but their wings and guards all can handle the rock and they share the ball better than anyone not named Golden State.
How much are the Hawks worth?
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