SBD/Issue 60/Franchises

Pistons Sale Reportedly Delayed Until After All-Star Break

Ilitches Reportedly Have Lowered Initial Bid For
Pistons, So Now Gores May Have Top Offer

The sale of the Pistons "will be delayed until at least the NBA All-Star break in mid-February ... and possibly longer," according to financial sources cited by Kaplan & Lombardo of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Citigroup, which is representing Pistons Owner Karen Davidson in the sale, "recently notified interested buyers that it would like to close a deal by February." Kaplan & Lombardo note "even if a deal is announced in the next few weeks, closing by mid-February could prove tough." Citigroup "wants to accelerate the timetable because there are concerns about the effects of ownership uncertainty on the franchise" (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 12/6 issue). In Detroit, Gregg Krupa notes as negotiations to buy the Pistons "proceed haltingly," sources said that there have been "no new bidders since an exclusive, 30-day negotiating period between Davidson and Ilitch Holdings, Inc., failed to yield an agreement last month." The sources said that they "believe the Ilitches lowered their original bid," and that Platinum Equity Chair & CEO Tom Gores "is now the highest bidder." It is "believed both continue to negotiate with the Pistons." Sources believe that for Davidson and Citibank to "realize something in excess of $400 million in the sale, they might either have to wait until the economy rebounds or push the purchase among foreign interests, including in the Middle East, India and even China, where the NBA is intent on expanding its business." But if they "choose either course, unless a current bidder increases a bid, the sale may take longer than February" (DETROIT NEWS, 12/7). A source indicated that speculation that Ilitch and Gores are working "on a deal to jointly buy the Detroit Pistons is untrue" (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 12/6).

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