Hansen ups offer to buy Kings by $75 million


SEATTLE — Anyone wondering if Chris Hansen had one last card to play in his fight to bring the Sacramento Kings to Seattle got their answer Friday, as Hansen announced he will increase his offer for the team by $75 million.

That raises the total value of the team to $625 million. Hansen has an agreement to buy 65 percent of the team from the current owners, the Maloof family, for roughly $358 million. That means Hansen’s increase Friday is for $48.75 million, bringing his total offer to more than $406 million.

The total valuation is by far the most for a team in NBA history — the highest price paid for a team was $450 million for the Golden State Warriors in 2010.

Hansen wrote in a statement on his sonicsarena.com website: “In an effort to further demonstrate the extent of our commitment to bring basketball back to Seattle, we have elected to voluntarily increase our proposed purchase price for the Sacramento Kings NBA Franchise by $75 million — from an enterprise value of $550 million to $625 million. In conjunction with our revised offer, we have also guaranteed to the NBA that the Franchise would be a revenue sharing payer in all years in Seattle.”

Hansen also noted that the Seattle arena project is “far ahead” of Sacramento’s, specifically that “the ownership group has acquired 100 percent of the property necessary to construct the Arena” and that “we have 100 percent of our private financing for the Arena committed and in place.”

He concluded: “While we appreciate that this is a very difficult decision for the league and owners, we hope it is understood that we really believe the time is now to bring the NBA back to Seattle, and that it is paramount that we do everything we can to put Seattle’s best foot forward in this process.”

As for whether the offer could sway the NBA’s decision, one league source said it could, due to the precedent that would be set by the offer in increasing the value of all of the franchises. One said it could also potentially set up legal action if the NBA does not take the highest offer.

A Sacramento group has offered $341 million for 65 percent of the team, or a total valuation of $525 million, which was the initial Hansen offer in January. Hansen increased that offer by $25 million total (or between $16 million and $17 million for 65 percent) in April.

Michael McCann, an on-air legal analyst for NBA-TV, said it’s hard to know the ramifications of Hansen’s move Friday because the league has yet to define what it will be voting on next week, when the Board of Governors meets in Dallas. The BOG has been widely expected to rubber-stamp a recommendation made by the league’s Relocation Committee last week to not allow the Kings to move. Based on what has been said in the past, the BOG would be voting on whether to approve the sale of the team to Hansen. Making such a higher bid might make it difficult for the league to turn down Hansen’s offer, McCann said.

“My sense is Hansen is earnestly trying to win both relocation and sale vote before full Board of Governors and overcome the committee vote,” McCann said. “If Hansen fails to win, he might be trying to plant seeds for an antitrust case against the NBA — basically, the league should expand given this offer.”

(EDITORS: BEGIN OPTIONAL TRIM)

Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson followed Hansen’s statement with one of his own, expressing confidence the Kings will remain in Sacramento.

“We feel very confident about the position we are in right now,” Johnson said. “The NBA leadership and owners have always said that their decision would not be dictated by a bidding war. This was always about whether Sacramento, a community that has supported the NBA for 28 years, can put together a plan and organization to ensure the franchise can rebuild and thrive. The ownership group, the city, and the community have shown the NBA, without any shred of doubt, that the Sacramento Kings belong in Sacramento. I believe the NBA owners realize that there is far more to think about than just an increased bid. They know what this story means to the league. We look forward to talking with all of them again in Dallas.”

(END OPTIONAL TRIM)

The Maloof family has several times indicated it would prefer to sell the team to Hansen’s group.

A Maloof family spokesman said Friday it would have no comment about Hansen’s latest offer.

(EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE)

It was reported earlier this week that the Sacramento group was being encouraged to place 100 percent of its offer into escrow in hopes of “persuading” the Maloofs to accept the offer.

The Sacramento Bee reported that a source said the Sacramento group is being asked to make the move to show that it has “the wherewithal” to back its offer.

The Bee reported that the Maloof family has “expressed concerns privately” about the financial viability of the Sacramento group, led by Vivek Ranadive, who is also a part-owner of the Golden State Warriors.

The Sacramento group on Friday was reported to have put 50 percent of its purchase price offer in escrow in an attempt to show it had the needed financing.

The Seattle group has reportedly put 100 percent of its offer in escrow.

———

(c)2013 The Seattle Times

Visit The Seattle Times at www.seattletimes.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services