SBJ/July 11-17, 2011/Franchises

Expected Sixers sale on track despite lockout

The NBA lockout has brought league business to a screeching halt, but it is not derailing the expected sale of Philadelphia 76ers.

“I think, frankly, this has been baked in from the beginning,” said NBA Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver, when asked whether the lockout would affect any team sales, especially the expected sale of the Sixers to a group led by Joshua Harris, senior managing director of Apollo Global Management.

At press time, a source close to the Sixers deal said an asset-purchase agreement was imminent despite the lockout that could result in the loss of games, or even the entire 2011-12 season.

The source said neither the lockout nor the potential of lost games was ever factored into the terms of the franchise sale, valued at $280 million.

“There has been no impact at all from the lockout,” said the source. “Nobody is giving anyone any outs.”

JOSHUA HARRIS

Apollo Global Management, co-founder, senior managing director

Age: 46

Education: MBA, Harvard Business School (Baker and Loeb Scholar); B.S., University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business (summa cum laude and Beta Gamma Sigma)

Personal: Married, four children

Net worth: $1.5 billion, as of March 2011, according to Forbes magazine
The Sixers, owned by Comcast-Spectacor, have been in negotiations for months with the Harris-led group, which also includes David Blitzer, senior managing director of The Blackstone Group, an investment advisory company.
An Apollo Group Management official declined to comment.

Comcast-Spectacor President and COO Peter Luukko confirmed through a spokesman that discussions about the team’s future are ongoing but would not comment.

Comcast-Spectacor also owns the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and the teams’ shared Wells Fargo Center home. None of those assets is involved in the Sixers sale, so the $280 million price is purely for the franchise, serving as a tenant in the arena. That is largely the reason the price is below the recent sale price of the Golden State Warriors, at $450 million, and that of the Detroit Pistons, which sold last month for a reported $325 million.

After an asset-sale agreement is reached, NBA owners must vote to approve a team’s sale. Despite the wide gulf between the league and the National Basketball Players Association in reaching a new collective-bargaining agreement, the uncertainty surrounding the league isn’t expected to change the approval process of the deal.

“The league is not going to stand in the way of a [Sixers sale] during the lockout,” a source said.

Galatioto Sports Partners is representing Comcast-Spectacor in the deal. Sal Galatioto, president of GSP, would not comment.

The Sixers, who this past season lost to Miami in the first round of the playoffs, ranked 25th out of the league’s 30 teams in attendance during the regular season, averaging 14,752 fans at the 20,328-seat Wells Fargo Center.

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