NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is "preparing to take control of the money-losing" Devils in the event that Owner Jeff Vanderbeek "fails to refinance the Devils’ debt before a looming Aug. 14 deadline," according to Josh Kosman of the N.Y. POST. A source said that the commissioner’s office in recent days has "told potential suitors to be ready in case he moves on the team and pushes Vanderbeek aside." One source said that Vanderbeek is "near a deal to sell a majority stake to a mystery investor, which would allow him to keep control of the Eastern Conference champions." The proceeds from a sale "would be used to repay lenders much of the $77 million in past due debt." While Bettman has said publicly that he "expects the Devils’ financial situation to be resolved soon, his behind-the-scenes moves suggest he’s far from confident that a deal will get done." Sources said that Bettman is "expected to give Vanderbeek a few more weeks to complete a financial restructuring but will not wait until the Aug. 14 deadline passes." Sources added that the NHL would "likely force him out sooner to give suitors enough time to study the team’s financials and make an offer to lenders before the bankruptcy deadline" (N.Y. POST, 6/18).
The NBA's vetting of Robert Pera “has just begun and his bid to buy the Grizzlies is not in serious trouble despite a published report" questioning his finances, according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis COMMERICAL APPEAL. An NBA source said that, “speculation to the contrary is false.” The source said that the “viability of Pera's bid won't be determined by the league for at least another six to eight weeks.” The N.Y. Daily News yesterday reported that Pera has “already created great skepticism because of his finances.” The report cited league sources who claimed that Pera's “net worth is $200 million and not enough to complete the transaction unless he has ‘some wealthy partners’ in line to help.” But a source said that Pera “remains committed to join the NBA despite his company's loss in momentum.” Forbes once estimated that Pera’s net worth was $1.5B, but he is now “said to be worth more than $800 million in large part because of shares in his company, Ubiquiti Networks” (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/18). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence of the N.Y. DAILY NEWS cited league sources as saying that the sale of the Grizzlies is “already in serious trouble” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 6/17). While his first report stated that when Ubiquiti Networks’ stock “bottomed out in the last two weeks," Pera's net worth dropped from $1B to $200M, Lawrence later amended his story to state that Pera’s net worth is “well over $800 million, counting 60 million shares of Ubiquiti Networks” (NYDAILYNEWS.com, 6/17).
GETTING TO KNOW YOU: In Memphis, David Williams wondered “what kind of owner” Pera will be, and noted the answer “may determine, more than anything else, whether the Grizzlies survive and thrive in Memphis for the long haul.” Williams also questioned NBA Commissioner David Stern's “confidence” in the sale going through. Williams: “By his comments, it seemed that Stern knew as little about Pera as the rest of us do. That is, ‘he has a few dollars, a few hundred million dollars, whatever the number is,’ and he likes to play hoops” (Memphis COMMERICAL APPEAL, 6/17). Also in Memphis, Geoff Calkins wrote Pera “should come visit” the city and tell Memphians “what he's all about.” Calkins: “What kind of guy is Pera? Does he plan to stay in Memphis for the long haul? Is he passionate about winning? How much will we see him around town? Will he be a hands-on owner, like Mike Heisley? What's his broad vision for the team?” Sports consultant and former Grizzlies President of Business Operations Andy Dolich said, "To me, he's missing an incredible opportunity. It's time to start the process of becoming a Memphian" (Memphis COMMERCIAL APPEAL, 6/17).