Hedge Fund Manager Loses Bid To Move Kings To Seattle

May 16 2013 | 11:41am ET

Christopher Hansen's dream of bringing professional basketball back to Seattle is on hold.

The National Basketball Association's Board of Governors voted 22-8 to block a planned move of the Sacramento Kings to the Valiant Capital Management founder's hometown. The decision puts an end to Hansen's deal, struck five months ago, to buy the team.

"It was advantage incumbent," NBA Commissioner David Stern said. "This wasn't an anti-Seattle vote. This was a pro-Sacramento vote."

For Hansen, the vote was a disappointing end to a campaign he though he had won. He struck a binding agreement with the Maloofs to buy the team, and last week increased his offer for it and signed a backup deal, under which he would by 20% of the Kings and wait the NBA out. Hansen and his group, which includes Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, have also bought the land for a new arena in Seattle.

Hansen said he still hoped to buy the minority stake in the Kings and was waiting to hear back from the NBA.

"Our day will come, and when it does it will just be that much sweeter for the struggle," Hansen wrote. Seattle has been without an NBA franchise since the SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

Stern said the league would now push for a deal with a group of investors, led by technology executive Vivek Ranadive, and the Maloof family, the team's current owners. The Maloofs pushed hard for the—richer—Hansen offer and Seattle move, and have said they would not sell to the Sacramento group.

"There's no pressure on us to sell," George Maloof said, although he acknowledged that he has been in talks with the Ranadive group.

For its part, the NBA said it was keeping Seattle on its radar.

"We have never wavered in our desire to return to the Seattle market at some point," Adam Silver, who will succeed Stern as commissioner next year, said. Silver said that expanding the league was discussed by the owners at the meeting.


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