SBD/Issue 54/Finance

Richard Petty Teams With New Investors To Acquire RPM Assets

 

Richard Petty Motorsports today announced it has found a buyer, ending two months of speculation that the NASCAR team would not survive. Medallion Financial Corp., Richard Petty and Doug Bergeron combined to purchase the team for an undisclosed price. Medallion, headed by Andrew Murstein, is the lead investor in the purchase and will control the new board of Richard Petty Motorsports. Richard Petty will manage the team. Bergeron, CEO of VeriFone Systems, an electronic payment service provider, will be the third largest holder of RPM. The parties signed a deal last Wednesday and closed it today. The buyers paid off all of the team's bank debt as well as what it owed Ray Evernham, the team's former owner, and Roush Fenway Racing, which builds engines for RPM, Murstein said. He declined to say how much debt the investors paid in total. George Gillett bought the team from Evernham in '07 for more than $100M. He failed to meet obligations on a $90M loan from a syndicate of banks and was forced to let go of the team after he sold Liverpool at a loss earlier this year. Petty worked behind the scenes to put together the group that bought the team. Murstein said, "Richard did a great business deal here. The way he got approvals from Roush and the banks made it possible." The team will operate the No. 9 car driven by Marcos Ambrose and No. 43 car driven by AJ Allmendinger. The former was sponsored by Stanley Tools, which will be back in '11, while the latter was sponsored by Best Buy, which has not committed to the '11 season. Murstein said, "We're hoping they're (Best Buy) going to stay on with us. We're confident they'll roll it over and continue."

TAKING THE WHEEL: Petty will serve as Chair of RPM, which is currently searching for a President or CEO to run day-to-day operations, Murstein said. The team hopes to add more cars to its garage in the future and aims to add a third car in '12, Murstein said. The acquisition is the first made by Medallion and Murstein, which looked at a number of sports franchises after raising $216M in an IPO for the now-defunct Sports Properties Acquisition Corp. Murstein said he considered naming the company that purchased RPM Tire Kickers LLC as a joke. He added, "I'm the last one standing and getting the last laugh. I know people questioned how long we looked at teams but the same assets that were selling for hundreds of millions of dollars are now selling for far less. At the end of the day, I'm quite happy" (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). Murstein said, "It’s a phenomenal name, great track record and it was just a perfect storm of things that made this a great investment opportunity." Murstein added, "I’m going to help Richard Petty and his team get back to the winner’s circle. If we do that, I think the monetary gain -- which is a distant second to that -- will follow" (FOXSPORTS.com, 11/29).

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