Coverage: Billionaire Rubin wants to buy the Carolina Panthers
E-commerce billionaire Michael Rubin, who owns a majority stake in sports apparel company Fanatics, wants to purchase the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers, which could sell for as much as $2 billion.
Rick Rothacker and Katherine Peralta of The Charlotte Observer had the news:
Michael Rubin, a minority owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils whose businesses include an online sports merchandise company, is looking into a potential bid for the NFL franchise, said sources who asked not be identified because the sales process is confidential. It’s possible Rubin could bring on a partner for any potential bid, one of the sources said.
Rubin, 45, joins the list of potentially viable bidders for the Panthers who have surfaced since owner Jerry Richardson put the franchise up for sale this year. The sale announcement came on the day an explosive Sports Illustrated report alleging workplace sexual and racial misconduct by Richardson became public.
Meanwhile, a local ownership group involving businessman Felix Sabates that has been considering a bid could be looking to partner with another bidder rather than making an offer of its own, a source familiar with the matter said. Sabates, whose group includes several prominent NASCAR drivers, has previously said that it planned to make a bid soon but that it would have to make “business sense.”
Jessica Golden of CNBC.com reported that Fanatics is a $4.5 billion business:
Rubin has grown Fanatics into a $4.5 billion business, as one of the largest online retailers of licensed sportswear and merchandise. At 45 years old, Rubin would be amongst the youngest owners in the NFL. He currently has a minority stake in the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s New Jersey Devils.
Appaloosa hedge fund founder David Tepper, a minority owner in the Pittsburgh Steelers, is also seen as a serious contender. Forbes lists Tepper’s net worth at $11 billon, while Rubin is worth $3 billon.
Forbes values the Panthers at $2.3 Billion. Sources say bids for the team are due soon, as NFL owners are hoping to approve a deal at their spring meeting in May in Atlanta.
A representative for the Panthers did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Darren Rovell of ESPN reports that the Panthers are the first NFL team for sale in three-and-a-half years:
In May 2017, NFL owners paid $95 million for a 3 percent stake of Fanatics. In September, a new financing round valued Fanatics at $4.5 billion, making the owners’ investment worth $135 million, an increase in value of more than 40 percent in just four months.
Rubin has a solid reputation in the business world and is not afraid of using his platform for things he believes in. He recently voiced his support for Meek Mill, the rapper whom he befriended and is now serving two to four years in prison for a controversial probation violation. Rubin has reportedly tried to use his influence to get Meek Mill out of prison.
If he prevails in his bid for the Panthers, Rubin, 45, would be the second-youngest owner in the league behind the San Francisco 49ers‘ Jed York, who turned 37 this week.
Rubin’s youth and personality are among the reasons he has grown close to some pro athletes, including 76ers center Joel Embiid. If Rubin bought the Panthers, he would have to sell his stakes in the 76ers, Devils and Crystal Palace, per NFL rules. Unlike some minority owners who move on, Rubin’s exit figures to be impactful.