SBD/January 7, 2011/Franchises

Gores Remains Leading Pistons Bidder, Could Close Deal Next Week

No new bidders for Pistons have emerged since Ilitch's deal fell through in November
Platinum Equity Chair & CEO Tom Gores "remains the leading bidder" for the Pistons and Palace Sports & Entertainment, and he is "now presumed to be the bidder who will emerge as the owner," according to sources cited by Krupa & Goodwill of the DETROIT NEWS. One source said that his position is "so pre-eminent that Gores could close a deal as soon as next week." Others said that "while that may overstate how quickly a deal can be done, the Pistons nonetheless would like to have an agreement in place to present" to the NBA BOG Feb. 18-21 in L.A. It has been "seven weeks since the Ilitch family's exclusive bargaining agreement to purchase the Pistons expired without a deal -- and with the Ilitches lowering their bid." In the interim, "no new potential bidders have emerged and the position of front-runner Tom Gores has solidified." But while some view a deal between Gores and Pistons Owner Karen Davidson as "imminent, it also is true many expected the Ilitches to buy the team two months ago, adding to their ownership of the Red Wings, Tigers and entertainment properties in Metro Detroit, and leading to their pursuit of financing for a new downtown arena for the Wings and Pistons." Reps for both Gores and the Ilitches declined comment. Experts "have said that given the bleak economy -- especially in southeastern Michigan -- the purchasing price is likely to be less than $400 million." Some NBA observers said that they "believe the Ilitches' original bid was more than" $400M, and Gores' bid is "thought to be" in the $300M range (DETROIT NEWS, 1/7).
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