Lacob, Guber set to acquire Warriors

Pair outbid offer reported $450 million for Bay Area franchise

Mandalay Entertainment chief Peter Guber and venture capitalist Joseph Lacob are set to acquire the Golden State Warriors for $450 million -- the most ever paid for an NBA franchise.

Their investment group beat out the favorite, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, in the auction for the Oakland, Calif.-based team.

Lacob, managing partner at private-equity firm Kleiner Perkins, is part-owner of the Boston Celtics, and Guber's Mandalay owns or operates six minor league baseball teams. Two of them are New York Yankees affiliates; the others are farm teams of the Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals.

The previous record price for an NBA franchise was the $401 million Robert Sarver paid for the Phoenix Suns in 2004. Current Warriors owner Chris Cohan bought the team in 1995 for $119 million.

Three-quarters of the NBA's board of governors must approve the deal, but that is seen as a formality.

Ellison expressed frustration about not sealing the deal.

"Although I was the highest bidder, Chris Cohan decided to sell to someone else," he said. "In my experience, this is a bit unusual."

Guber -- a former chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment with producing credits including 1989's "Batman," "Rain Man," and "Flashdance" -- said he's looking forward to helping the Warriors to "become an even greater story to tell."

The team finished fourth in the five-team Pacific Division of the NBA's Western Conference last year with a 26-56 record, and some observers wondered about the high price for a struggling club. But team adviser Sal Galatioto of Galatioto Sports Partners said the price reflects the franchise's growth opportunities.

"The price reflects the Warriors' exceptional fan base, the outstanding demographics of the Bay Area, the high level of interest in the team and the strength of the NBA," Galatioto said.

Lacob said the acquisition is a dream come true.

"Peter and I intend to do what we do best -- innovating and building," he said. "It is our passion to return the Warriors to greatness and build nothing short of a championship organization that will make all of us in the Bay Area proud."
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