Despite what David Stern seems to think is a franchise-crushing financial system, and despite the threat of a protracted lockout, NBA franchises seem to be selling for record prices. And healthy profits in some cases for the former owners. The latest is the just agreed-to deal for Joshua Harris to buy the Philadelphia 76ers.
But there is a trend in the new buyers — many come from private equity firms.
It’s not a new trend, but over at CNN’s Fortune they broke it down.
This is the fourth time in recent years that private equity executives have purchased an NBA team. The first was in 2002, when the Boston Celtics were acquired for $380 million by a group led by Steve Pagliuca (Bain Capital) and Wyc Grousbeck (Highland Capital Partners).… Next up was the Golden State Warriors, acquired last year for $450 million by venture capitalist Joe Lacob (Kleiner Perkins).…
Most recently Tom Gores and his firm Platinum Equity purchased the Detroit Pistons, in a transaction marked by its unusual structure (the team technically is majority-owned by the firm, but since Gores controls the firm…).
Now we have the Philadelphia 76ers going to Harris, and I’ve heard word that another group of PE execs is beating the bushes for their own NBA franchise.
A lot of these guys, like Gores, specialize in buying and turning around distressed businesses. Does that make the NBA something that fits their business profile, or just a fun toy for really rich guys?
I’m not going to pretend to know what this means, if anything, for the league. Just pointing out a trend, but something to watch to see if there is an impact on the NBA.