Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Deal with Devils Is Close

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Deal with Devils Is Close

Article excerpt

After months of uncertainty and financial instability, the New Jersey Devils are on the verge of being sold.

Multiple sources told The Record on Thursday that a deal, which would result in current owner Jeff Vanderbeek giving up controlling interest - and possibly all interest - in the team and operating rights of Prudential Center in Newark, was imminent.

One source with knowledge of the ownership process said the sale of the team to one of the two bidding groups could be completed "quickly" and estimated it might be only a matter of days. Another source said that timetable might be overly optimistic, but that the process is "close" to wrapping up.

There are no plans to move the team from New Jersey from either potential bidder.

Two sources confirmed that a group headed by Philadelphia-area attorney Andrew Barroway, whose interest in the Devils was first reported in June, remains heavily involved in trying to buy the team and is already far down the road of reaching agreements with the NHL and the lenders that hold the team's debt. Barroway's group already has invested more than $30 million in the Devils - to help cover pension and escrow payments - in beginning the process of buying at least a controlling share of the team from Vanderbeek and stabilizing its finances.

Barroway's group has competition, however, from the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers ownership group, headed by investment banker Josh Harris, three sources confirmed. One source said Harris' group became involved at Vanderbeek's invitation after Barroway's exclusive window to buy the team expired late last month without a completed sale.

By coincidence, Barroway was part of a group that tried to purchase the 76ers before Harris' group did.

Harris, a co-founder of the private equity firm Apollo Global Management, has an estimated worth of more than $2 billion. His group bought the 76ers from Comcast Spectator for a reported $280 million in 2011.

Whether Barroway's group or Harris' ends up with the team, the Devils will remain in New Jersey and continue to play at Prudential Center. The NHL has been highly involved with Vanderbeek in the sale process to ensure that the team will remain in New Jersey -- an interest shared by both bidding groups. …

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