SBD/Issue 1/Franchises

Court Says Belkin Cannot Buy Out Atlanta Spirit Group

Judge Dismisses Ruling That Belkin
Entitled To Buy Out Atlanta Spirit Owners
The Maryland Court of Special Appeals dismissed last year’s ruling by a lower court that Atlanta Spirit co-Owner Steve Belkin was entitled to buy out the other owners of the group that owns the Hawks and Thrashers, according to Tim Tucker of the ATLANTA CONSTITUTION. The court sent the dispute back to the lower Montgomery County (MD) court, where a judge is “expected to deal with the issue of how to resolve the ambiguities" stemming from an '05 contract that called for Belkin to sell his 30% stake in Atlanta Spirit to the other owners for a price to be set by up to three appraisals.  As a result of the ruling, the prospect of Belkin gaining control of the teams is “off the table for now." Attorney Steven Estep, who is representing Atlanta Spirit co-Owners Bruce Levenson, Ed Peskowitz and Michael Gearon Jr., said, “As a practical matter, that’s dead.” Gearon added, “It’s now clear Belkin does not have the right to buy us out, and we look forward to getting back to the process of buying him out.” Belkin and his attorneys declined to comment.  Estep said that the circuit court “could try to fashion a ‘commercially reasonable solution’ regarding the selection of the second appraiser or could toss out the 2005 contract altogether” (ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 9/12).

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