Preliminary bids for Hawks due today

Non-binding preliminary bids are due today as the next step in the sale of the Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, according to a person familiar with the process. Groups and individuals interested in the buying the Hawks and current ownership have signed non-disclosure agreements and cannot comment on the sale process.

The bids will be used to determine what individuals or groups are interested in taking the next step of the ownership process.

A financial book has been available to prospective buyers for several weeks but does not include detailed information.

The sales process began in September when Bruce Levenson announced his intention to sell his controlling ownership in the franchise following the discovery of a racist email he wrote in 2012 concerning, in part, the racial makeup of the fan base and game operations. Since then, all current ownership groups, those located in Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and New York, have agreed to sell their entire stakes in the team.

The sales price for the Hawks and Philips Arena is expected to begin at $800 million and could exceed $1 billion. The sales process was believed to take until April to complete. However, one person familiar with the situation indicated it could now take until May or June.

The Hawks have hired investment firms Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports to handle the sale process.

“That has moved along the course that we expected,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said earlier this month during a press conference at the All-Star Game. “There are several very interested parties who are looking at the team. It is on schedule.”

Silver also confirmed that the NBA recently changed its rules concerning team ownership. In a rule passed by the Board of Governors, ownership groups cannot be comprised of more than 25 individuals. Also, each individual must own at least one percent of the team.

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