If you’re Steve Ballmer and you want to make sure you win a bid for the Los Angeles Clippers, what is 10 percent of your net worth?
That’s what Ballmer agreed to do when he bid $2 billion for the Clippers in a deal agreed to by Shelly Sterling and the lawyers for the Sterling family trust. (A sale Donald Sterling is trying to blow up in multiple court cases.)
That $2 billion bid was way, way more than what the “bid book” on the team put together by Bank of America valued the team at, reports Ramona Shelburne and Darren Rovell of ESPN, who got their hands on the bid book.
Ballmer’s $2 billion final bid is 12.1 times the expected 2014 revenues of the team, according to the numbers given to the bidders by Bank of America, which conducted the sale on behalf of the Sterling trust. The document was introduced into court Tuesday and subsequently obtained by ESPN. A person with knowledge of the sale confirmed that bidders were given these documents….
“No team in the history of sports has sold for six times total revenues, so that should give you an idea of how crazy this purchase price is,” said a sports banker who was not involved in the transaction.
Even according to Bank of America, no team has been purchased for more than five times its total revenues. Before the bidding began, Bank of America valued the Clippers between $1 billion and $1.3 billion, double the $550 million sale price of the Milwaukee Bucks, which had set a league record for a sale price just months before.
Clippers interim CEO Dick Parsons (the guy the NBA put in charge) said on the stand in the Sterling v. Sterling probate case on Tuesday that if the Ballmer sale deal goes away, he doesn’t think they will get as much the next time around.
Ballmer didn’t go bargain shopping, but he (like other recent buyers of NBA franchises) are betting on a more owner-friendly CBA, a new more lucrative television deal, and the general growth in popularity of the league, to make up that money over time.
Plus, if you really want something and you can afford it, why not? That’s how I feel about the occasional nice single malt Scotch from the Highlands. If Ballmer feels the same way about the Clippers, why shouldn’t he spend?