The Carolina Panthers of the National Football League appears to have a new owner, and it is not music impresario P. Diddy. Instead, hedge fund manager David Tepper, who currently owns 5 percent of the Pittsburgh Steelers, is reportedly buying the team from Jerry Richardson, subject to NFL approval. Pittsburgh native Tepper supposedly signed the papers today.
“Despite teaming up with Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael Rubin, Diddy’s ownership group was NOT selected to purchase the NFL team,” TMZ reported.
The new owner will reportedly have to cough up $2.2 billion for the Panthers and intends to keep the team in North Carolina, ESPN reported.
Tepper, who is said to be worth about $11 billion, will also have to divest himself of his stake in the Steelers as part of the deal. Tepper founded the Appaloosa Management global hedge fund.
The Panthers price tag, once the sale is confirmed, constitutes the highest such transaction ever for an NFL franchise. The Buffalo Bills changed hands in 2014 for $1.4 billion, which set the previous record
Richardson, 81, put the team up for sale last year after he was engulfed in sexual harassment allegations. Given his minority ownership of the Steelers, Tepper, 60, has already cleared the NFL vetting process, which should streamline the red tape.
At their May 22 meeting in Atlanta, NFL owners are expected to green light the Tepper purchase of the Panthers. Both the NFL financial committee and at least 24 owners must give their seal of approval before the deal can go through officially.
According to ESPN‘s NFL insider Adam Shefter, Tepper plans to model the Steelers management style when he starts running the Carolina Panthers.
“Under league rules, Tepper must put up at least 30 percent of the selling price,” ESPN added, which means he’ll be writing a check for about $786 million as a down payment.
Richardson, the first ex-NFL player to later become an owner, had to pay the NFL $206 million for the privilege of launching the expansion franchise as the league’s 29th team in its inaugural 1995 season in the NFC South division. Richardson was a former Baltimore Colts wide receiver.
Although NFL television ratings were down substantially last season, the U.S. Supreme Court decision yesterday that effectively legalized sports betting across the country is presumed to boost interest and viewership moving forward, thus increasing the already-enormous value of NFL franchises.