SBD/Issue 46/Franchises

Pistons Sale Reportedly Reopened After Ilitches Reduce Offer

Ilitch's Original Pistons Bid
Was In Excess Of $400M

While Red Wings and Tigers Owners Mike and Marian Ilitch "were originally the highest bidder, they reduced the offer" for the Pistons, leading Owner Karen Davidson and Citibank to "reopen the process to allow other bidders to negotiate again," according to a source cited by Gregg Krupa of the DETROIT NEWS. The Ilitches "received an exclusive 30-day period to finalize the sale in early October" with the possibility Davidson and Citibank "might extend it to late November." The Ilitches "originally bid in excess of $400 million, higher than expected, for an NBA franchise in a season before expected labor strife and in a state wracked by a difficult economy." But sources said that the process "has been opened to other bidders." Krupa noted the "sequence of events leads some observers to conclude that the catching point in the process is merely part of extended negotiations that may well play through, rather than a breakdown." Feeding the "speculation the recent developments may be all part of the negotiations between the Ilitches and Davidson is the theory that when confidential information leaks, the leakers usually have a purpose" (DETROIT NEWS, 11/13).

GORES STILL INTERESTED: In Detroit, Vince Ellis reported Platinum Equity Chair & CEO Tom Gores, who submitted a bid for the Pistons, visited the team outside its Staples Center locker room after Friday's game against the Clippers. Gores "talked openly of his interest in purchasing the Pistons if negotiations break down" between Davidson and the Ilitches. Gores: "I think Mike Ilitch has been great to the Detroit community. If he's able to buy the Pistons then I'd love to be talking to Mike. And if he's not, I'd like to be involved in a different way." Ellis wrote "one would think" the Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment are "more valuable to Ilitch." But Gores was "pretty visible Friday night, sitting courtside with Clippers owner Donald Sterling." Sterling announced to onlookers that Gores "wants to buy the Pistons" (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 11/13).

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