Report: Memphis Grizzlies Agree to Sell Team

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley has found a buyer to purchase the team for roughly $350 million. The new principle owner is set to be 34-year-old Robert Pera, former engineer at Apple and one of Forbes Magazine’s 10 youngest billionaires in the world. ESPN has the details: “The purchase price is in the $350 million range, sources said. A formal announcement to publicize the agreement between the parties is expected this week, possibly as soon as later Monday, with NBA Board of Governors approval then required before Pera can be officially installed as successor to Heisley, who recently turned 75. Sources say that Pera intends to keep the team in Memphis. The Grizzlies’ lease at the FedExForum, furthermore, ties the team to the city until the year 2021, with steep financial penalties attached to breaking that lease. In 2006, Heisley agreed to sell his 70 percent controlling stake in the Grizzlies for a reported $360 million to a consortium headlined by Christian Laettner and fellow Duke alumnus Brian Davis. That deal infamously collapsed and was followed by the controversial trade of Pau Gasol to the Lakers in February 2007. That move initially earned Heisley widespread criticism before the Grizzlies’ recent turnaround. But Pera is known as a basketball fanatic in business circles and is an unquestionably more serious bidder given his financial portfolio. The 34-year-old Northern California native is a former engineer at Apple who left the computer giant at 25 to start his own company. Today Pera owns a reported 64 percent of the Ubiquiti Networks he founded and operates the company out of Taiwan as well as San Jose. Pera speaks Chinese and Japanese and is said to play basketball four to five times per week.”