While the bones of ESPN.com's earlier report on the potential sale of the 76ers is accurate, calling the sale "imminent" is too strong. Earlier today, ESPN.com reported that Comcast-Spectacor is in talks to sell the Sixers to a "group led by New York-based leverage buyout specialist Joshua Harris."
That information is accurate, as are the details reported in the ESPN.com story. The one caution is that while the two sides are continually talking, there are a myriad of hurdles to overcome before an agreement between the two sides can be reached. Calling the deal "imminent" would not accurately reflect the current situation, which seems to put any potential deal -- if one is indeed reached -- at at least a week-plus in the future. In addition, this deal would allow current owner Ed Snider to retain a small percentage of the Sixers, although certainly not a controlling stake.
Also of note, a source has confirmed that this potential deal in no way affects the Flyers, the NHL franchise also owned by Snider.
Two hours ago, Sixers' president and COO Peter Luukko released the following statement about the news: "I can confirm that we are in discussions about the future of the team, but these discussions are confidential and we cannot talk about the details. At some point, we may have something more to say about these discussions, but we will not be making any comments at this point."
Messages were left for Comcast-Spectacor owner Ed Snider and Luukko. When reached, Sixers president Rod Thorn declined to comment.
If the two parties -- that would be Comcast-Spectacor and the group led by Joshua Harris -- reach a deal, the sale would become official only with the approval of the NBA's Board of Governors.
As ESPN pointed out, the Sixers were not known to have been for sale before today's news.
According to Forbes, Harris, 46, is worth $1.5 billion. He has ties to the University of Pennsylvania, having graduated from Wharton. And he received his MBA from Harvard. Harris made his money by investing in distressed properties. ESPN is listing other investors in the deal as private equity investor David Blitzer and former Sacramento Kings executive and NBA player agent Jason Levien. Blitzer also graduated from Wharton.
In ESPN's story, it says that Comcast-Spectacor would continue to operate the Wells Fargo Center and that the Sixers would become a tenant. The impending lockout does not appear to be a hurdle in this deal. Also of note, the Sixers' basketball operations will not be impacted by this news. Thorn and general manager Ed Stefanski still have full control over all basketball decisions, including potential trades (read today's earlier news about the Sixers discussing an Andre Iguodala-Monta Ellis deal with the Golden State Warriors) and the upcoming 2011 NBA Draft.
You can find the full ESPN story here: sale of 76ers.
Reports about Snider's attempts to sell the Sixers have surfaced in the past, including as recently as last summer, but this story appears to have more legs and is further along than anything that has previously surfaced.
More as it comes ...
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