CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The Carolina Panthers are off the market.
The Panthers announced Wednesday they’ve signed a “definitive agreement” to sell the team to David Tepper, the founder and president of global hedge fund Appaloosa Management.
The deal is subject to NFL approval.
League owners will meet next week in Atlanta, where they are expected to vote on the purchase. Since Tepper has already been vetted by the league as a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the approval process is not expected to run into any snags.
The transaction is expected to close in July, the team announced.
Tepper, who has been a minority owner of the Steelers since 2009, said in a release Wednesday that he’s thrilled to become the next owner of the Panthers.
“I have learned a great deal about the community and the team over the past several months and look forward to becoming part of the Carolinas,” said Tepper, who was born and raised in Pittsburgh. “I want to thank Jerry Richardson and the other Panthers partners for all they have done to establish and develop the NFL in the Carolinas. It has been a remarkable 25-year journey and I promise to build upon the Panthers’ success on the field and in the community.”
Tepper has a net worth of more than $11 billion, according to Forbes.
He is paying an NFL-record $2.2 billion to purchase the team, according to two people familiar with the situation. The people spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the team didn’t release the selling price of the franchise.
The release didn’t mention if Tepper plans to move the team or keep it in Charlotte.
Jerry Richardson, the team’s founder and only owner, abruptly announced he was selling the team last December after coming under investigation from the league for sexual and racial misconduct in the workplace.
That investigation is ongoing.
Richardson, who rarely comments to the media, said in the release that bringing the expansion Panthers and the NFL to the Carolinas in 1993 was enormously fulfilling for him and his wife Rosalind and all of the team’s partners.
“We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support over the last 25 years,” Richardson said. “You have taken the Panthers into your hearts and made them part of this warm and supportive community. We want to thank all of our past and present players, coaches and staff for their hard work in making the Panthers a great success both on the field and in the community. The personal relationships we have enjoyed have been very meaningful to us.”
Richardson has had a strong relationship with the Rooney family in Pittsburgh through the years and is familiar with Tepper.
“I look forward to turning the stewardship of the Panthers over to David Tepper,” Richardson said. “I have enjoyed getting to know him in this process and am confident that he will provide the organization with great leadership in both its football and community initiatives. I wish David and his family the very best as they enter this exciting new phase of their lives.”
Tepper will have full ownership of the team. He’ll need to sell his ownership stake in the Steelers once he becomes the Panthers owner.
Richardson had owned 48 percent of the franchise and the Panthers had several minority owners under the previous regime.
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