SBD/August 20, 2014/Franchises

Charles Wang Agrees To Sell Stake In Islanders, Will Hand Over Control In Two Years

Wang has been fielding offers for the Islanders since February
Islanders Owner Charles Wang has "agreed to sell a minority stake" in the team to former Capitals co-Owner Jonathan Ledecky and London-based investor Scott Malkin, who will "assume majority control of the Brooklyn-bound team in two years," according to Arthur Staple of NEWSDAY. Ledecky and Malkin have been "friends for more than 30 years and were roommates at Harvard." Financial terms were not disclosed, and the deal is "contingent on the approval" of the NHL's BOG. The team said that Wang will "remain the majority shareholder and represent the Islanders on the Board of Governors for the next two years." An Islanders spokesperson yesterday "confirmed that Wang will be a minority partner after two years." Wang has been "fielding offers for the team since February, when word leaked that Philadelphia-based hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway had significant interest in buying the Islanders, but talks broke off." Barroway filed a lawsuit against Wang earlier this month, alleging Wang "backed out of an agreement to sell the team to him" for $420M. The suit said that "after the initial agreement, Wang raised the asking price" to $548M because the Clippers had been sold for $2B to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer (NEWSDAY, 8/20). In N.Y., Brett Cyrgalis cites a source as saying that terms of the deal are "in the ballpark" of $548M (N.Y. POST, 8/20). Also in N.Y., Richard Sandomir notes Wang did "not reveal how much of a stake he would retain after surrendering majority control of the team" (N.Y. TIMES, 8/20).

RISKY BUSINESS: On Long Island, Mark Herrmann writes it has "not worked out for Wang" with "reported losses" of $20M a year, and it "sure has not worked out for the team, with its embarrassing streak of not having won a playoff series since" '93. They have "flirted with the worst fate a pro team can have: appearing irrelevant in its own market." Herrmann: "Things can only get better. For once, they just might." The "one huge reason is that this time, the buyers know they are getting only a hockey team and not a real estate bonanza" (NEWSDAY, 8/20). Also on Long Island, Joe Ryan notes Ledecky and Malkin come to the Islanders with "starkly different business backgrounds." Ledecky "made his name as a corporate merger specialist who specialized in buying handfuls of small businesses and rolling them up into one big company." His "biggest success was U.S. Office Products, which he founded" in '94 and "built into a juggernaut by consolidating 260 other companies." Malkin is a "scion of one of New York's leading real estate families" but has "primarily focused on European retail." His grandfather, Lawrence Wien, "helped found what is now a sprawling property empire that includes millions of square feet of Manhattan apartments, retail and office space, including a controlling stake in the Empire State Building" (NEWSDAY, 8/20).
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