In a news release from Greenberg Glusker, Sterling's counsel, she
said she had signed a binding contract to sell the team to Ballmer
on behalf of the The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the club.
"I am delighted that we are selling the team to Steve, who will be a
terrific owner. We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers
into a premiere NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take
the team to new levels of success."
The agreement will need to be approved by the National Basketball
Association's Board of Governors before it is finalized. The NBA did
not immediately respond to requests for comment.
"I will be honored to have my name submitted to the NBA Board of
Governors for approval as the next owner of the Los Angeles
Clippers. I love basketball," Ballmer said in a statement. "And I
intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers
continue to win – and win big – in Los Angeles."
On Thursday, Ballmer outbid two groups, one led by media mogul David
Geffen that offered $1.6 billion and included TV talk show maven
Oprah Winfrey and Oracle Corp <ORCL.N> CEO Larry Ellison, a source
close to the process told Reuters. A group of Los Angeles investors
also bid $1.2 billion for the team.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch acted as the financial advisor in the
deal, Sterling's statement said.
The Clippers came up for sale after the NBA banned owner Donald
Sterling for life because of racist remarks he made in a recorded
conversation that was leaked last month to entertainment news
Donald Sterling's attorney, Maxwell Blecher, told The New York Times
earlier that he would have to approve the sale. Blecher did not
immediately respond to request for comment on Friday.
Ballmer's winning bid was raised from an initial $1.8 billion offer
made earlier on Thursday, according to the source, who spoke on the
condition of anonymity. If approved, the deal would be second only
to the $2.15 billion paid in 2012 for baseball's Los Angeles
"It's no wonder the prices are so high," said sports consultant Ed
Desser, a former president of NBA Television and New Media Ventures.
"There just aren't enough teams for all the billionaires who want
[to top of second column]
Sterling, a Los Angeles-area real estate developer, paid $12.5
million in 1981 for the Clippers, which were then located in San
Ballmer, 58, who retired as Microsoft CEO in February, remains on
the board and still owns about 4 percent of the Redmond,
Washington-based software giant, worth $13.4 billion.
Last year, he joined a group that unsuccessfully bid on the
Sacramento Kings basketball team. A long-time basketball fan, until
a few years ago he played a regular pickup game with other Microsoft
colleagues at a public gym near the Microsoft campus.[ID:nL1N0EH1W7]
It is unclear how the team's potential sale will affect a June 3
hearing the NBA scheduled at which Donald Sterling can address the
accusations against him. At that meeting, the owners could force him
to sell the team on a vote by 23 of the remaining 29 owners, the NBA
Maxwell Blecher, Sterling's lawyer, said in an interview with CNN
that his client is prepared to file suit to fight the charges, but
that he intended to wait for communication from the NBA before
deciding when and whether to do so.
(Additional reporting by Bill Rigby in Seattle, writing by Curtis
Skinner,; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.