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Maloofs reach deal to sell Kings

The SportsXchange

A group led by software magnate Vivek Ranadive reached an agreement to buy 65 percent of the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family, assuring the franchise's future is in California.

The valuation of the NBA franchise was set at $535 million, and Ranadive confirmed at Thursday's league meetings in Dallas that his group had put more than $341 million in escrow, meaning the deal was ready to be executed.

The next step, commissioner David Stern outlined Wednesday, is for a stadium project to be announced.

A bid by a Seattle group including hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, was voted down 22-8 by the NBA's Board of Governors. The Maloofs supported the relocation bid, but Stern said Sacramento had proven it was a worthy market to retain the team.

Ranadive must divest his minority ownership stake in the Golden State Warriors, which is expected to happen as early as Friday.

He will be the first owner of Indian descent in the NBA, but he has deep pockets behind him, too. Former facebook executive Chris Kelly, 24-Hour Fitness Founder Mark Mastrov, the Jacobs Family, which runs Qualcomm communications company and Raj Bhathal, who made his fortune in swimwear with Raj Manufacturing but was once the owner of a World Football League team in Orlando.

Bhathal will have a signficant role with the Kings, and this venture represents a 30-year chase of a Sacramento franchise. In the early 1990s, he tried to buy the WFL's Sacramento Surge but was outbid by Fred Anderson.
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