Jimmy Iovine Part of Group Bidding to Acquire L.A. Clippers (Report)

2:22 PM PST 05/29/2014 by Roy Trakin
Michael Becker / FOX

The new Apple mogul has joined the billion-dollar bid from Guggenheim Partners, David Geffen, Larry Ellison and Oprah Winfrey.

Newly minted billionaire Jimmy Iovine isn’t letting that money burn a hole in his pocket.

The Beats by Dre founder, who cashed out for a cool $3 billion yesterday in selling the headphone maker/streaming audio service to Apple, is already putting that windfall to work, according to ESPN.com, which cites him as part of a group bidding for the L.A. Clippers along with Guggenheim Partners principals, CEO Mark Walter and president Todd Boehly, that also includes entertainment mogul David Geffen, Oracle software co-founder Larry Ellison, TV personality Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene and Steve Wynn’s ex-wife Elaine. (Guggenheim Partners is the parent company of Prometheus Global Media, which includes The Hollywood Reporter and Billboard).

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The current fire sale of the basketball franchise was ordered by the NBA in the wake of owner Donald Sterling’s much-publicized racist comments made to his girlfriend V. Stiviano, which were taped and subsequently leaked to TMZ. All prospective bidders are required to ante up $300 million for the privilege. 

Sterling’s wife, Shelly Sterling, is conducting the sale with Bank of America, even as her husband is reportedly contemplated fighting the order to divest the team, which he bought for $12.5 million in 1981 — moving them from San Diego to L.A. in 1984 — making him the league’s longest-tenured owner.

Other than the Guggenheim offer, there are reportedly two other bids worth upwards of $1.2 billion on the table, including one from a group including L.A.-based investors Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh, with former NBA star Grant Hill. That figure is more than twice the highest price ever paid for an NBA team, which was set when the Milwaukee Bucks were acquired for $550 million earlier this month by hedge fund titans Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry.

The other offer is being made by former Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer, who joined with hedge fund manager Chris Hansen in an unsuccessful bid to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle that was rejected by the NBA.

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Ballmer has vowed not to move the Clippers to his hometown, which hasn’t had a pro basketball team since the Supersonics relocated to Oklahoma City to become the Thunder in 2008. “That would be value-destructive,” he told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month.

Another offer is expected to come from a group backed by Middle Eastern investors.

Three-quarters of the NBA’s other 29 owners must sign off on any sale by the Sterling trust.

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