Seattle group makes move to buy Bob Cook’s minority stake in Sacramento Kings

by James Ham and Jonathan Santiago

Pictured: Bob Cook

Pictured: Bob Cook courtside at Kings/Clippers, Mar. 21st

With an agreement already in place to purchase 65 percent of the Sacramento Kings, prospective Seattle SuperSonics owner Chris Hansen is making another move to gain control of the team.  Hansen has agreed to buy an additional 7-percent stake in the club that currently sits in California bankruptcy court.

As first reported by Nick Monacelli of News 10, Hansen has an agreement to purchase the shares of minority owner Bob Cook for approximately $15 million.  David Flemmer, the trustee for Cook’s stake, plans to request a hearing on the sale with the NBA on either Apr. 15 or 16, just days before the league’s Board of Governors meetings.

In his state of the city address earlier this month, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson unveiled his plan for a group of 20-plus local investors to bid on that 7-percent stake.  However, Hansen was the only serious offer in the auction as of Tuesday according to News 10.

Those involved in the effort to keep the team in Sacramento seem to hint that letting Hansen win the auction is all part of the city’s strategy.  Phil Oates, one of the 20-plus local investors in Johnson’s push, was unfazed by the news and remained confident in the mayor’s plans.

“The purchase of the 7 percent was not a surprise,” Oates told Cowbell Kingdom in a phone interview this afternoon.  “And I don’t think anybody is surprised to learn that it was from Chris Hansen.  The mayor is ahead of the game and has a strategy involved in dealing with that.”

Though Hansen has an agreement with the trustee to purchase Cook’s ownership stake, the sale of those shares still need to pass through three major hurdles.  Before the transaction can be finalized, Hansen needs approval from both a California judge and the NBA.  The Kings remaining minority owners must also be given a 15-day window to match the offer according to the official court documents.

While the NBA is a tough hurdle, the California bankruptcy judge might be an even tougher sell.  Hansen has already established a valuation of the Kings franchise at $525 million.  Under that value, Cook’s stake equates to a figure closer to $37 million.

“It’s a bid to purchase the 7 percent,” Oates said, noting that a transfer of ownership to Hansen has not yet officially been consummated.  “And so that doesn’t throw us off and my confidence in terms of keeping the Kings here in Sacramento.  It doesn’t affect that one iota.”

Sacramento will make its pitch to keep the team to the league’s relocation/finance committees in a meeting in New York next week.


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