Alan Kestenbaum, the chairman and CEO of the private equity firm Bedrock Industries LP, reportedly remains interested in the Panthers
The price tag for the NFL’s Carolina’s Panthers has reached a record $2.5 billion, but that appears to be too steep for the group headed by e-commerce innovator Michael Rubin, which also includes entertainment mogul Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and former NBA MVP Stephen Curry.
The possibility of a $2.5 billion sale – which was originally reported by Bloomberg – would set a record for a U.S. franchise. Basketball’s Houston Rockets sold for $2.2 billion last year, while baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers sold in 2012 for $2 billion. In the most recent sale of an NFL team, Terry and Kim Pegula paid $1.4 billion for the Buffalo Bills in 2014.
Donald Trump and Jon Bon Jovi were also interested in buying the Bills.
Sources told the Charlotte Observer that Rubin, whose minority partners also include Alibab Group co-founder Joseph Tsai, remains interested at the right price.
The paper reported that the bidding process may conclude by the end of the month and that a vote to approve the sale could take place during league meetings May 21-23.
According to multiple reports, Alan Kestenbaum, the chairman and CEO of the private equity firm Bedrock Industries LP, remains interested in the team. Canadian billionaire Jim Pattison could be among Kestenbaum’s minority partners, according to the Bloomberg report, but he told the Observer that ‘no one has contacted’ him about the sale.
Michael Rubin, Owner and Executive Chairman of Fanatics, speaks during a joint announcement between Fanatics and VF Licensed Sports Group in Easton, Pennsylvania. He reportedly remains intersted in the Carolina Panthers at the right price
Sean Combs (left) was the first major celebrity to declare his interest in the Carolina Panthers, but long-time Charlotte resident and former NBA MVP Stephen Curry (right) joined soon after
Billionaire Jim Goodnight, CEO of Cary-based SAS Institute Inc., also reportedly remains interested.
The Observer previously reported that Charleston businessman Ben Navarro and Miami hedge fund manager David Tepper are also interested in purchasing the team.
The team was put up for sale at season’s end by founder Jerry Richardson, who is being investigated by the NFL for allegations of workplace misconduct. When news of the expected sale emerged, Combs tweeted his desire to buy the team and Curry responded on Twitter that he also was interested.
The franchise was valued at $2.3 billion, per Forbes, which also estimates Rubin’s net worth at $3 billion. The league requires at least 30 percent of the sale price to be put down by the majority owner, with as many as 25 minority owners allowed in an ownership group.
The Panthers finished 11-5 in 2017, ultimately losing in the opening round of the playoffs. Before a disappointing 6-10 campaign in 2016, quarterback Cam Newton (pictured) put together an MVP season while Carolina finished 15-1 before losing in the Super Bowl
Tsai currently owns 49 percent of the Brooklyn Nets and has the right to take control team from principal owner Mikhail Prokhorov in 2021.
Official bids are expected to come in over the next few weeks, with approval from two-thirds of the league’s owners required to complete a sale.
The Panthers finished 11-5 in 2017, ultimately losing in the opening round of the playoffs.
Canadian billionaire Jim Pattison (pictured) could be among Kestenbaum’s minority partners, according to the Bloomberg report, but he told the Observer that ‘no one has contacted’ him about the sale
Before a disappointing 6-10 campaign in 2016, quarterback Cam Newton put together an MVP season while Carolina finished 15-1 before ultimately losing to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl.
Given the Panthers’ supposed value, Combs, with his estimated net worth of $820million, needed a partner such as Rubin. It also didn’t hurt to have Curry aboard, given the fact that his career earnings will hit $257 million by the time his current contract ends in 2022, according to Spotrac.
Combs touted his plan to buy the team as history-making back in December, tweeting: ‘There are no majority African American NFL owners. Let’s make history.’
‘It’s time for diversity!! It’s time for Black ownership!!’ he wrote.
Curry hopped on the bandwagon, tweeting at Combs: ‘I want in!’
‘Holla at me, let’s get it!’ replied Combs.
Curry grew up in the Charlotte area because his father, former NBA guard Dell Curry, played 10 seasons for the Charlotte Hornets.
Furthermore, Curry also attended Davidson College, which sits about 20 miles north of the city.
In December, a Sports Illustrated report documented wide-ranging claims of workplace misconduct against Richardson.
Former Panthers employees spoke of lewd remarks, lingering gazes and inappropriate touching. On at least one occasion. Richardson was accused of directing a racial slur against an African-American employee.
The Panthers were put up for sale at season’s end by founder Jerry Richardson (right), who is being investigated by the NFL for allegations of workplace misconduct. When news of the expected sale emerged, both Combs and Curry tweeted that they were interested
Combs was also quick to point out that the NFL does not have any African-American owners
At least four former Panthers employees have received ‘significant’ monetary settlements due to inappropriate workplace behavior by Richardson, according to the report.
The Observer previously reported that Charleston businessman Ben Navarro and Miami hedge fund manager David Tepper (pictured) are also interested in the team
The new SI report did not name sources, citing confidentiality agreements in the settlement deals and fear of retaliation.
Richardson, who himself played in the NFL as a halfback and wide receiver for the Baltimore Colts from 1959 to 1960, made his fortune in the food services industry, running the company best known for operating chains such as Denny’s and Hardees.
The 81-year-old Richardson acquired his majority stake in the franchise in 1993 at a value of $206 million, and the team is now valued at $2.3 billion by Forbes.
The new report claims that his alleged inappropriate workplace conduct was well known among Panthers employees and something of a running joke.
‘No one ever said anything, at least not that I heard,’ one former Panthers employee told SI. ‘He was the boss. It was [viewed] more of a creepy-old-man thing than a threat.’
Sources told the outlet that Richardson would focus his comments to female employees on their appearance, offering to pay for manicures and in one case suggesting that a female employee let him shave her legs.