Comcast-Spectacor in Deal to Sell NBA’s 76ers

Group led by buyout specialist Joshua Harris gets 90 percent of team for a reported $280 million.

Comcast-Spectacor has reached an agreement to sell the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers to a group led by New York-based leveraged buyout specialist Joshua Harris, it was announced Wednesday.

Terms of the agreement, which is subject to approval by the league’s board of governors, were not disclosed, but the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that the sale is for $280 million for 90 percent of the team (Comcast-Spectacor and Sixers owner Ed Snider will retain the other 10 percent).  

Forbes valued the club at $330 million in February — 17th best in the league — before the NBA locked out its players in a contract dispute, putting the 2011-12 season in jeopardy.

The deal does not include the 76ers’ home, the Wells Fargo Center, or the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers, which also are owned by Comcast-Spectacor. The basketball team will remain a long-term tenant of the arena and have a cable broadcast agreement for its games with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia through 2029.

The new ownership also includes David Blitzer, a senior managing director of the Blackstone Group; former NBA player agent and Sacramento Kings executive Jason Levien; and portfolio manager Art Wrubel.

Harris, Blitzer and the other investors are making personal investments; Apollo and Blackstone are not involved in the transaction. The transaction is expected to close this year, subject to NBA approval and customary closing conditions.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to be affiliated with this storied franchise,” Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management, said in a statement. “As a basketball fan who attended college in Philadelphia, and with family roots here, I have always felt a strong connection to this City and the 76ers. We look forward to helping the 76ers organization build on this past season’s accomplishments in the years ahead. The ownership group also looks forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Comcast-Spectacor.”

Through his holding company Spectacor, Snider has controlled the Sixers since 1996 — the year Spectacor merged with Comcast, the new majority owners of NBCUniversal — when he purchased the team for $130 million.

Harris in 1990 co-founded Apollo Global Management, which invests primarily in distressed properties.