A draft agreement for the sale of the Carolina Hurricanes to a group led by lawyer Chuck Greenberg has been given to lawyers for both sides for vetting, two sources with knowledge of the sale process said Wednesday. Both requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations.
While it’s another step along the process of selling the team, there are still hurdles for the deal to clear in the details – Greenberg is also still finalizing the makeup of his investor group – and potentially still a small window for another buyer to insert himself into the process, as current Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos indicated last week.
“With any transaction that may occur, there is a lot of paperwork going back and forth,” Hurricanes president Don Waddell said in a statement provided by the team. “But as we said with the letter of intent, there is still nothing binding on either side in terms of a deal to sell the team.”
But the process has moved far enough along that Greenberg met Wednesday morning with Centennial Authority chairman Tom McCormick, who at last week’s meeting of the authority that oversees the arena said he had not yet spoken with Greenberg – even as the potential buyer met with current minority investors this week and last in the same PNC Arena conference room where the authority meets. Waddell was also present, McCormick said.
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“We just chatted,” McCormick said. “There were no documents exchanged, no talk about a timetable (for a sale) or anything like that. It gave him a chance to learn more about the authority. Kind of him sizing us up and us sizing him up.
“He seemed like a nice guy. He has a lot of experience with pro sports.”
If lawyers sign off on the draft, a binding sale agreement could be in place as soon as the end of August, with the deal potentially closing, with NHL and Centennial Authority approval, at some point around the start of the season in October, if not necessarily before it.
Karmanos, in an interview last week, said the team could sell for about $450 million to $500 million and would remain in Raleigh. Karmanos said he had been negotiating with Greenberg and given Greenberg and his group additional time to finalize its financial investment, but said, “If we get a few more weeks down the road and he can’t raise enough money, I’m going to tell him sayonara.”
Karmanos said the price could rise to $550 to $600 million should the team go unsold before the start of the season, then have a successful year. Carolina has not been in the Stanley Cup playoffs since 2009, but many NHL prognosticators believe the Canes could end that streak in the 2017-18 season.
Greenberg, a sports attorney and former CEO of the Texas Rangers, has been in Raleigh often during the past few weeks, meeting with potential investors and handling much of the due diligence that comes with putting together such deals.