We still don’t know who the buyer is, but apparently the sale of the Atlanta Hawks is moving along quickly.
The Atlanta Spirit — the name of the ownership group — recently sold the NHL’s Thrashers (which moved to Winnipeg) and now are on track to sell the NBA team.
People familiar with the process say representatives of a potential buyer are doing due diligence — examining financial records — as the process moves toward a possible offer and more detailed negotiations for the basketball team and Philips Arena operating rights.
The people familiar with the situation, speaking exclusively with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, would not identify the potential bidder because of confidentiality agreements, but described the process as moving fast. They said no offer or exclusive negotiating agreement is in place but that the potential bidder, who might have partners, has the financial wherewithal to complete a transaction.
While the sale price is not known, Forbes values the Hawks at $295 million. Expect toe Spirit or maintain a minority share in the team.
After the anonymous bidder does his due diligence, the usual procedure is for the Spirit and owner to set up an “exclusive right to negotiate” deal that locks out other bidders for a time. Then the two sides haggle over a price. If they can come to a deal, then they still need the approval of the other NBA owners.
Unlike the Thrashers, the Hawks are not going anywhere. First, the new owner is buying the building operating rights, not a sign he wants to move on. Also, the AJC reports there would be $195 million in loans that would need to be paid off first, which is a steep price to move a team.
The Spirit did have an exclusive negotiating period with John Moores, the man in the process of selling the San Diego Padres. However, no deal was reached.