Could the Pittsburgh Steelers, one of the longtime cornerstone franchises of the National Football League, be up for sale?
(A sale of the Steelers could be worth a ton of money)
The WALL STREET JOURNAL reports that the NFL team has been “quietly” shopped around to potential purchasers, as the current owners decide on their future affiliations with the franchise.
The Steelers are run by the Rooney family - five sons of team founder Art Rooney Sr. control 80% of the team, while their cousins the McGinley family own the remaining 20%. But team chairman Dan Rooney is looking to buy out the rest of his clan, and his siblings & relatives are looking to get out of the football business and concentrate more on running their casinos & racetracks & whatnot.
However, Dan’s brothers & cousins are worried that his proposed purchase plan “undervalues the team and takes on too much debt” - especially based on the findings of a Wall Street investment bank about the actual value of the team:
Working in tight secrecy under the code-name “Project Newcastle,” Goldman Sachs & Co. late last year valued the Steelers operations at $800 million to as much as $1.2 billion, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The team appraisal was in response to Dan Rooney’s original buyout offer:
The Dan Rooney family’s buyout proposal was presented by Société Générale SA under the code-name “Project 33,” documents show. The plan appears to value the Steelers at well below the price range envisioned by Goldman.
Under the SocGen plan, the Dan Rooney family would take on substantial debt and pay $35 million to each brother and the McGinley family for a 5% stake in the team. Dan Rooney’s family then would buy more equity, at a price to be determined, over 10 years, leaving each with a 5% stake in the team.
But the rest of the Rooneys have their eyes on Stanley Druckenmiller as a favorable buyer of the team. The billionaire chairman of Pittsburgh-based Duquesne Capital Management has expressed interest in acquiring the Steelers, but had also stated that he would like to keep Dan Rooney on as a partner.
Either way, the Steelers ownership situation needs to be resolved, since the current setup is actually against league rules:
Technically, the Steelers ownership is out of compliance with NFL guidelines already. The league requires that a single person own at least 30% of a franchise to be principal owner; in the Rooney family, each brother’s share works out to 16%. And the league has limits on owning gambling operations, at a time when the Rooney family stake in casinos is increasing.
Whoever winds up securing the Steelers, be it Dan or Stanley or some other buyer, is sure to be rolling in green with the Black & Gold.