Los Angeles Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling is mounting a hurried sale of the team and could name a prospective new owner by the end of the week, it was reported today.
Shelly Sterling is trying to sell the Clippers in advance of a Tuesday deadline, when the 30 pro basketball teams will vote on whether to strip control of the team from both of the Sterlings in response to Donald Sterling's racially charged remarks about blacks, the Los Angeles Times reported, quoting people familiar with the situation.
Shelly and Donald Sterling have been married for 58 years and she holds half of the team through a family trust. Last week, her husband said he had turned over control to her to facilitate a sale, The Times reported.
The potential price tag for the Clippers and the field of interested parties came into focus Tuesday, with one likely bidder saying the team would go for well over $1 billion, The Times reported. That would be the highest sale price in NBA history.
Sterling said in documents obtained by The Times that he has already received offers "in excess of $2.5 billion" for the Clippers.
Among the possible buyers is Chicago-based Guggenheim Partners in partnership with three billionaires: Oracle software co-founder Larry Ellison, entertainment magnate David Geffen and multimedia powerhouse Oprah Winfrey, The Times reported. Guggenheim Partners bought the Dodgers two years ago for more than $2 billion.
According to the newspaper, another group of potential bidders includes three people with ties to major league sports: Tony Ressler, the Los Angeles-based co-founder of the investment firm Ares Management, who holds a minority stake in the Milwaukee Brewers; Oaktree Capital Management co-founder Bruce Karsh, who is a minority owner of the NBA's Golden State Warriors and chairman of Los Angeles Times owner Tribune Co.; and Grant Hill, a onetime NBA all-star who finished his career with the Clippers. Hill and others from the group met with Shelly Sterling on Monday at Nobu restaurant in Malibu, The Times reported.
A bid is also expected from Steve Ballmer, who stepped down as chief executive of Microsoft in February after leading the software company for 14 years. He met with Shelly Sterling on Sunday, according to The Times.
Donald Sterling Tuesday sent the NBA a response to its decision to force the Sterlings to divest themselves of the Clippers. It said the NBA's use of an "illegally recorded" conversation that took place during a "lovers' quarrel" cannot be used to strip Sterling of ownership of the Clippers.
V. Stiviano, the frequent Sterling companion to whom he was speaking when he told her to stop bringing blacks to "my games," had claimed that the relationship was purely platonic.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver lashed out at Sterling after the recorded conversations became public, banning him for life from the league and fining him $2.5 million. The fine has not been paid.
--City News Service