The Carolina Panthers are going to have a new owner in the coming days/weeks, as CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported on Friday. David Tepper, a billionaire hedge-fund manager and a Steelers minority owner, is set to purchase the team.
The price is not cheap: Tepper will pay $2.2 billion, according to a report from the Charlotte Observer.
This blasts past the previous highest price fetched by an NFL franchise, when the Buffalo Bills were purchased by Terry and Kim Pegula for $1.4 billion.
Rumors of the Panthers generating a $2.5 billion sale price percolated for months leading up to the sale after the investigation began into current/soon-to-be-former owner Jerry Richardson's misconduct in the workplace. Shortly after the NFL took over the investigation into Richardson's behavior, the Panthers owner announced his intention to sell.
But $2.5 billion would have required another owner, which would have required multiple minority owners, which would have clouded the process. Tepper, as La Canfora has reported, can cut a check for $2.2 billion. It's believed he is paying cash for the franchise.
Panthers sale proceeding to David Tepper as reported last week. There is nothing shocking about sale price. People in know always told me $2B-2.2B was range. Were never getting $2.5B— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) May 15, 2018
The NFL owners are set to meet in Atlanta on May 22-23. The sale to Tepper should be voted on -- and likely approved -- at those meetings. Tepper is the founder of Appaloosa Management, one of the world's most preeminent hedge funds, and is worth an estimated $11 billion in personal wealth.
Tepper, 60 years old, has been a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers for several years now, owning five percent of the franchise. As such, he has already been vetted by the league in terms of qualifying as an owner. That greatly simplifies the process, although Tepper will have to divest himself of his Steelers ownership, much the same way that Jimmy Haslam did when he purchased the Browns.
According to La Canfora on the Pick Six Podcast (subscribe via iTunes | via Stitcher | via TuneIn | via Google Play for your daily dose of NFL news), Tepper has received positive reviews on both GM Marty Hurney and coach Ron Rivera and is "incredibly comfortable" with both of them, having gotten good reports from Steelers brass on the GM/coach. As such, no changes to the front office or coaching staff are expected to occur prior to the 2018 season.
Per the Obvserver, Tepper was raised in a lower-middle-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh and attended the University of Pittsburgh, paying his own way to college by working at the school's library. He would spend time with Goldman Sachs before setting out on his own. He now manages north of $17 billion in assets for Appaloosa.