Bruce Levenson, a former co-owner of Atlanta Hawks LLC, a company that owns and operates the basketball team Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena hired Goldman Sachs and Inner Circle Sports in selling the basketball team and its operating rights, but the auction deal was won by Tony Ressler. Ressler led the group to auction the team having provided a bid of $730 million. Eventually, the deal sold more than was expected by at least 27 percent.
Antony Ressler, an entrepreneur agreed to acquire the Atlanta Hawks basketball team at a price of about $850 million according to sources. The sale of this NBA team was likely to be financed by cash and assuming of some debts. Among those to be part of the new ownership group are; Hawks CEO Steven Koonin as well as the coach Mike Budenholzer.
Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College sports economist predicted the price of selling Hawks basketball team to be about $ 700 to $750 million. This is a deal, which has made a big profit from the sale. Ressler is an owner of an investment and private equity firm called Ares. He is also a real estate developer.
Ressler was one among the finalists in the sale of the team. The purchase team that was led by Ressler also consisted of other people including Grant Hill and Rick Schnall. It also included Sara Blakely who is the owner of Spanx as well as her husband Jesse Itzler.
A couple of people who were aware of the situation involving the sale of Hawks told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that there were two groups that would be considered finalists in the auction deal. One group was led by Steve Kaplan, the Grizzlies minority owner joined by Steve Starker, a New York investment banker. In this auction group, Jesse Itzler, the husband to Sara Blakely was also part.
In 2004, Atlanta Spirit LLC, which later was named Atlanta Hawks LLC, was formed with aim of purchasing Atlanta Hawks from Turner Broadcasting. The major partners in Atlanta Hawks LLC were Levenson of UCG and Ed Peskowitz. The purchase initially included Atlanta Thrashers but this was sold in 2011.
In 2012, Danny Ferry was hired by Levenson to be the general manager of Hawks as well as the president of the operations of the team. Ferry previously played for team Cleveland Cavaliers before serving as the general manager for the Cavaliers. Prior to joining Hawks, Ferry was the vice president in charge of operations for San Antonio Spurs.
In late 2014, Levenson hinted that he planned to sell his share of Hawks’ ownership. Levenson had been coordinating the sale of Hawks team with help of a banker. Initially, Forbes had valued the Hawks to be worth $425 million, however, following the sale of Clippers and Bucks, the market changed drastically.
The value of various NBA franchises skyrocketed when the NBA started landing lucrative new TV deals. Ressler, whose net worth estimated $1.4 billion according to Forbes was also part of an investment group that was spearheaded by Mark Attanasio, and which purchased Milwaukee Brewers in 2005.