A group of investors has secured the winning bid to buy the NBA's Atlanta Hawks for a sale price somewhere between $700 million and $1 billion, according to media reports Wednesday. Billionaire Tony Ressler, co-founder of credit and private-equity firm Ares Management LP, heads the group that bought the Hawks.
Bloomberg first reported the sale price, pegging the tag at $730 million, while CNBC reported a source saying the price was about $850 million. The Atlanta Journal Constitution confirmed the price was under $1 billion. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski first reported the Ressler-led group had bought the team. Ressler's group of investors reportedly includes former NBA star Grant Hill, who will serve as chairman for the team, Bloomberg reported.
Ressler, 55, made his fortune in finance, becoming a billionaire after Ares' initial public offering in 2014, and currently has a net worth of $1.43 billion, according to Forbes. That pegs him as the 1,250-richest person in the world on Forbes' list and No. 418 in the United States. Los Angeles-based Ares has about 700 employees and about $74 billion worth in offices across the globe, Bloomberg reported in 2014.
Ressler has a well-documented interest in sports. He previously bought a minority ownership stake in the Milwaukee Brewers in 2005 and failed to win bidding wars for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 and Los Angeles Clippers in 2014. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer ended up buying the Clippers for $2 billion, outbidding Ressler's LA group, which offered a reported $1.2 billion.
The price tag for the Hawks might be a bargain in comparison. Ressler jumped on the opportunity after former Hawks owner Bruce Levenson agreed to sell his controlling interest in the team in September 2014 after emails surfaced that were considered racially insensitive.
Ressler, who graduated from Georgetown University and Columbia Business School, is married to actress Jami Gertz -- who has appeared in "Twister," "The Lost Boys" and "The Neighbors" -- and is a father of three, Bloomberg reported. Despite Ressler's heavy involvement with Ares, which has bought more than 20 companies -- including Samsonite Corp., GNC Holdings Inc., budget chain 99 Cents Only Stores and Neiman Marcus Inc. -- he still spends a lot of time with sports, Bloomberg reported.
“I now go to bed on ESPN’s top 10 plays of the day,” Gertz told Bloomberg in 2014. “I used to get angry at my husband when we’d watch the game and then we’d have to watch ESPN right after the game. Now I get it: You miss the nuances of what happened.”
Now Ressler will be able to watch as many basketball games as he likes, but instead of taking in games on the television, he'll be high up in the owner's box.