SBD/June 13, 2012/Franchises

NBA Awaiting Application To Begin Vetting Prospective Grizzlies Buyer Robert Pera

Pera is Founder & CEO of Ubiquiti Networks and worth just under $1B
The NBA will “begin its vetting” of prospective Grizzlies Owner Robert Pera “upon receipt of a formal application for ownership,” according to Kyle Veazey of the Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL. There is “no time frame for the approval to come, though the hope of those familiar with the sale is by the end of the summer.” The time frame “could be affected by a variety of factors, including how familiar the league already is with a prospective buyer and other issues that could occupy the league's time.” Forbes estimates reveal that recent losses in Pera’s company's stock “have battered” his net worth, but that “doesn't necessarily mean he would be one of the ‘poorer’ owners in the NBA.” Forbes reports Pera's net worth “is now a little under $1 billion after being as high as $1.5 billion.” NBA Commissioner David Stern yesterday said Pera "has been a successful entrepreneur and he has a few dollars, a few hundred million dollars, whatever the number is, and I have heard that he's a huge fan." Stern: "He reminds me a little bit of (Portland owner) Paul Allen, who when he came into the league used to drive around in his car with a basketball in the trunk and stop if he thought he could get a good game" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/13). Pera is Founder & CEO of Ubiquiti Networks, which had its stock price fall 12% on Monday and “has lost 66 percent of its value since May 1” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 6/12).

NO BLUFF HERE: In Memphis, Geoff Calkins writes the local minority ownership “did step up” during the sale process and they are the “only reason the team is here in the first place.” The locals “had the dream of bringing an NBA team to Memphis when nobody thought it was possible.” They would have “preferred to own the team themselves, but were willing to swallow their egos and become minority owners if that's what it took.” Calkins writes he suspects the minority ownership “didn't believe Heisley's buyer was real” when he told them they could meet the price of a buyer. Calkins: “Heisley has had a succession of phantom buyers, starting with Christian Laettner. Which points out the real problem, of course: the utter lack of trust on both sides” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/13).

KEEPING INFORMED: Also in Memphis, Ronald Tillery notes Pera “is described as deliberate in his approach,” and that “might also best describe how the Grizzlies will conduct their business until a transfer of ownership” is finalized in the fall. Pera “won't have veto power when it comes to Griz dealings but he'll be kept in the loop about transactions as a courtesy generally provided in the NBA by the outgoing owner.” Heisley “emphatically said that the Griz will operate under his philosophy until ownership changes hands.” Heisley: "I'm going to approach this draft like I normally would. Pera has not bought the team yet. If you think I'm just going to walk away you're crazy.” He added, "But I have every intention of inviting (Pera) to participate when we go through the draft. He will be kept informed of every basketball decision that's being made. Obviously, he'll have an opportunity to put his two cents in. We'll handle it like a fair business man would. I don't anticipate any disagreements" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/13).

PRICE INCREASE: Tillery reports the Grizzlies are “raising some season ticket prices effective June 29 -- the first increase in seven years.” But the increase is “not linked to Monday's announcement” that Heisley plans to sell the franchise to Pera. Increases range from $1 to $10 per game. Terrace III seats are “increasing from $10 to $11 per game, and courtside seats from $129 to $139.” Club Level seat prices “will remain unchanged.” The Grizzlies said that their season-ticket prices “remain among the lowest in the league, with 6,000 tickets priced at $11 or less per game and more than 10,000 tickets priced at $27 or less” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/13).
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