Former Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer agrees deal with Shelly Sterling for purchase of LA Clippers
Former Microsoft CEO and billionaire Steve Ballmer has reportedly agreed a deal worth $2 billion with Shelly Sterling to acquire the Los Angeles Clippers, NBA franchise. Shelly Sterling, wife of banned owner Donald Sterling over racist comments, owns 50% of the franchise while her husband Donald Sterling owns the other half. Ballmer has conducted negotiations solely with Shelly but Donald Sterling still needs to approve of the sale before it goes through. However, it is reported that Donald Sterling was recently declared “mentally incapacitated” by a team of experts which means his signature won’t be necessary and Shelly is the sole trustee.
Shelly Sterling released a statement saying “I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a terrific owner, We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success." The agreement will be sent to the NBA for final approval. Ballmer must also be approved by 3/4ths of the owners of the league’s other franchises.
A statement released by G.F Bunting quoted Ballmer as saying “I am honored to have my name submitted to the NBA Board of Governors for approval as the next owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.I thank Shelly Sterling for her willingness to entrust the Clippers franchise to me, and I am grateful to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and his colleagues for working collaboratively with me throughout this process."
Donald Sterling’s lawyer Bobby Samini, however, remains defiant saying “Sterling is not selling the team. That's his position. He's not going to sell. They're telling me he should stand back and let them take his team because his opinion on that particular day was not good, was not popular? That his team should be stripped from him? It doesn't make sense. He's going to fight."
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver stated on May 20 that the league wanted a voluntary sale instead of forcibly seizing the club from the Sterlings. The seizure of the franchies was previously set to be decided on June 3 in a meeting by the Board of Governors which would consist all the owners of the other franchises as well. But if the deal with Ballmer goes through before that, then there might be no need for that meeting. However, if the deal runs into rough weather, with Donald Sterling refusing to sign off on it, and if the Board of Governors support the charges against Sterling in the meeting, then the Sterling Family Trust will lose the franchise and Steve Ballmer will likely own 100% of the stakes. However, as part of his negotiation with Shelly Sterling, Ballmer has reportedly agreed terms that lets her stay on with the franchise regardless of the Board of Governors’ decision.
Ballmer outbid groups led by music mogul David Geffen ($1.6 billion) and L.A. investors Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh ($1.2 billion). Despite all the controversy, sources say that both Ballmer and Shelly are confident that the NBA will approve their proposal. The deal, if approved by the NBA would be a record for an NBA franchise.