Walmart heir Rob Walton agrees to buy Broncos for $4.65 billion

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An ownership group led by Walmart heir Rob Walton has reached a deal to buy the Denver Broncos for $4.65 billion, which would shatter the record selling price for an NFL franchise.

The purchase price was confirmed Tuesday evening by a person familiar with the matter. The Broncos announced the agreementwhich is subject to approval by the NFL Finance Committee and other franchise owners, without announcing the price.

“We look forward to earning the trust and support of the NFL as we take the next step in this process,” Walton said in a team statement. “Once the necessary approval procedures are completed, our family is excited to share more with Broncos fans, the organization and the community.”

Walton announced that Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments, has agreed to join his ownership group. Hobson, who is black, is also chairman of the board of Starbucks Corporation and a director of JPMorgan Chase.

“We know she will bring her strategic acumen and leadership perspective to our team,” Walton said.

NFL owners approved a resolution in March endorsing diversity in franchise ownership.

The two previous NFL franchises for sale were the Buffalo Bills, which were bought by Terry and Kim Pegula from Ralph Wilson’s estate for $1.4 billion in 2014, and the Carolina Panthers, bought by David Tepper from Jerry Richardson for $2.275 billion in 2018.

Forbes, in its annual estimates of NFL franchise values, in August, pegged the value of the Broncos at $3.75 billion, 10th highest in the league. The Dallas Cowboys led the way with $6.5 billion.

The Broncos are sold by the Pat Bowlen Trust. The franchise’s ownership situation had been confused in recent years by disputes between the heirs of late owner Pat Bowlen and, more recently, was further complicated by litigation brought by the estate of another former owner over a right of first refusal.

“As this purchase and sale agreement awaits approval from the NFL Finance and League Ownership Committee, today marks an important milestone on the path to an exciting new chapter in history. Broncos,” said Joe Ellis, president and CEO of the team. A declaration.

Forbes listed Walton, 77, as the 22nd richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $57.9 billion on Wednesday. He would become the richest owner in the NFL.

The new ownership group also includes Walton’s daughter, Carrie Walton Penner, and son-in-law, Greg Penner.

“I enjoyed getting to know Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner through this process,” Ellis said. “As we learn more about their journey and their vision for the Denver Broncos, I’m confident their leadership and support will help this team achieve great things on and off the field.”

Stan Kroenke, the owner of the Los Angeles Rams, is married to Ann Walton Kroenke, another Walmart heiress.

The deal for the Broncos must be approved by at least 24 of the NFL’s 32 teams. It was not immediately clear Tuesday evening when the transaction will be completed and the agreement ratified.

The other finalists in the tender were groups led by Josh Harris, owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils; Mat Ishbia, President and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage; and Jose Feliciano and Behdad Eghbali, the co-founders of Clearlake Capital.

Ellis and two other directors retained authority to oversee a sale. A 2019 lawsuit filed by Bowlen’s two eldest children, Beth Bowlen Wallace and Amie Klemmer, argued that Bowlen lacked the capacity to sign his estate documents and was improperly influenced by trustees. The lawsuit was dismissed last year at their request.

The sale came after the resolution of a lawsuit filed by the estate for former Broncos owner Edgar Kaiser Jr. Kaiser’s estate argued that it continues to hold a right of first refusal on a potential sale, stemming of the deal when Pat Bowlen bought the Broncos from Kaiser in 1984. A settlement was reached in April.

The record sale price bolsters the financial power of the NFL. The 2020 collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association provided labor peace and allowed team owners to implement new revenue-boosting measures, such as expanded playoffs and a regular season of 17 games.

Last year, the NFL struck a new round of television and streaming deals worth more than $110 billion over 11 years. Meanwhile, the league and its teams expected to generate around $270 million last year from sports betting and gambling partnerships, with an eye on that figure reaching $1 billion a year. this decade.

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