The ownership group of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers — led by investment banker and majority partner Joshua Harris — is reportedly interested in buying the New Jersey Devils.
CSN Philly has confirmed the report, originally from Fox 29’s Howard Eskin, with “sources with knowledge of the situation.”
Tom Gulitti of NorthJersey.com also received confirmation from “two sources with knowledge of the Devils ownership process.”
The Devils have been searching for a new owner for quite some time, and have reportedly been in negotiations with Philadelphia-based attorney Andrew Barroway — but, according to Gulitti, Barroway’s sale agreement expired at the end of July without a deal being completed.
New Jersey’s current financial situation is cloudy at best. Owner Jeff Vanderbeek has spent much of the last two years feuding with Newark mayor Cory Booker, dealing with reports of unpaid loans and facing rumors of potentially defaulting on said loans.
In June, Forbes’ Mike Ozanian reported that Vanderbeek was $230 million in debt and suggested the Devils could be sold through a prepackaged bankruptcy sale, like the Dallas Stars were in 2011.
As for the Philly group? Here’s more, from CSN’s John Gonzalez:
According to Forbes, Harris is worth $2.1 billion. In 2011, he and the current Sixers ownership group bought the team for a reported $287 million. As of January 2013, Forbes valued the Sixers at $418 million.
Along with Harris, the new investment group is led primarily by David Blitzer. Blitzer, one of the Sixers’ owners, graduated magna cum laude from the Wharton School of Business. Blitzer is a senior managing director and head of tactical opportunities for Blackstone, the world’s biggest private equity firm by assets.
According to Bloomberg, Blackstone reported $3.3 billion in revenue last year. Blitzer, who joined the firm in 1991 and started its European private-equity business in 2002, reportedly manages a $1.5 billion fund on behalf of Blackstone.
It should be noted that, according to Gulitti’s sources, the Barroway group is still working on trying to buy the Devils and that, according to Gonzalez, the Harris group is considering a purchasing of “one of at least three different sports-related entities.”