Panthers sold in record $2.2 billion deal

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Billionaire hedge fund manager David Tepper has reached an agreement to buy the Carolina Panthers for a reported $2.2 billion, the highest amount ever paid for an NFL franchise, the team announced on Wednesday.

The Panthers said in a statement that Tepper, the founder and president of the Appaloosa Management global hedge fund, had signed a definitive agreement to buy the team.

The deal will have to be approved by NFL owners at a meeting in Atlanta next week, but the sale is expected to be a formality.

The reported $2.2 billion sale price is $800 million more than the previous record figure for an NFL team, the $1.4 billion raised in the sale of the Buffalo Bills in 2014.

The Panthers' long-time owner Jerry Richardson announced last December he was selling the team at the end of the season in a bombshell announcement that followed allegations of workplace misconduct.

A Sports Illustrated report said Richardson had paid off at least four women over allegations which included claims of sexual harassment and using a racial slur.

Tepper, 60, meanwhile said he was looking forward to taking over the Panthers, one of the strongest sides in the National Football Conference who reached the Super Bowl in 2016.

"I am thrilled to have been selected to be the next owner of the Carolina Panthers," Tepper said in a statement released by the team.

"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."

"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's fortune has been estimated by Forbes at $11 billion, meaning he will become one of the wealthiest owners in the NFL once the sale is confirmed.

Richardson, a former NFL wide receiver turned fast food restaurant tycoon who had owned the team since they were established in 1993 as an expansion franchise, meanwhile said he was confident in handing off the Panthers to 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."