The Carolina Panthers expected to sell for less than hoped due to the NFL's strict ownership requirements

Bloomberg TVBillionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper is the favourite to become the next owner of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.
  • The NFL requires that its owners own at least 30% of the team and has a debt limit of $US350 million, and there are few billionaires with the liquid cash to meet those requirements.
  • As a result of this, there were no prospective buyers who could meet outweigh David Tepper’s bid of around $US2.2 billion for the Carolina Panthers even if they felt they had the finances to make it work.
  • This sale price is a bit low considering the value of the league as a whole, so the league may include a relocation free to inflate the value of the sale.

The Carolina Panthers appear to be on the verge of finding a new owner.

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports that hedge fund manager and Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner David Tepper looks set to buy the team.

Interestingly, Tepper looks set to spend *only* $US2.2 billion, a number which is actually on the small side for a team in the wealthiest sports league in North America. And the reason for this, according to Mike Ozanian of Forbes, is because of how stringent the NFL’s requirements for the finances of its owners are.

“Simply put, there are not that many people that have the cash to buy a team worth $US2 billion or more because they would need at least $US300 million of cash (NFL rules require an incoming owner to own at least 30% of the Panthers and the league has a $US350 million debt limit),” Ozanian wrote.

“Most likely, a new owner would need much more than $US300 million because it would not be easy to find enough minority investors willing to fund the remainder of the purchase given those investors would have no say in how the Panthers are run.”

As Ozanian notes, this is not unique to the NFL, as the new Houston Rockets owner had to leverage parts of his business to pay the $US2.2 billion sum for the team.

However, La Canfora’s initial report indicates that the NFL may be disappointed with the sum, and may use some creative accounting to make

“In the end, the NFL may be able to trumpet that the sale price of the Panthers was in the $US2.4B-$US2.5B range, one well-placed source theorised, by including a clause in the sale price that Tepper would have to pay an additional $US200-$US300M should he move the team within a certain time frame, or something along those lines,” La Canfora wrote.

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