Charles Wang has reached an agreement to sell the New York Islanders to Jonathan Ledecky, a former owner of the Washington Capitals, and London-based investor Scott Malkin, the team announced. The sale is pending approval from the NHL’s board of governors.
According to the Islanders' announcement, Ledecky and Malkin purchased a substantial minority stake in the team with plans to transition to majority owners in two years. That means Wang will remain the majority owner until then.
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to become partners in the New York Islanders with Charles, and to pursue our shared dream of winning a fifth Stanley Cup for the greatest fans in the NHL," Ledecky said in a satatement.
"I'm thrilled that Jon and Scott have agreed to join me as we start the Islanders’ final year at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum," said Wang. "I look forward to a long and successful partnership."
Wang has reportedly been fielding offers for the team since February and appeared close to selling the team earlier this summer. The Isles owner was then sued by businessman Andrew Barroway for $10 million last week after Barroway claimed Wang backed out on an agreement to sell the team for $420 million.
According to Barroway's suit, Wang informed Barroway that he had decided to sell the Islanders to a different group on Aug. 1. Wang denied the claims through a statement, but given the more recent events, it appears we now know who that different group is.
Wang has been the majority owner of the Islanders since 2004 and has owned at least a part of the team since 2000. The team's on-ice struggles and Wang's own failure to work out a deal for a new arena on Long Island has led to frustration among the Islanders faithful.
Wang has often come under fire for being slow to make changes and blind loyalty to his staff despite middling results.
The team has finished outside of the playoffs in seven of the last nine seasons.
The team will be moving to Barclays Center in Brooklyn next season, which could be a positive move for the team in the long term as its current facility, Nassau Coliseum, is widely considered one of the worst buildings in the NHL.
New ownership should bring new optimism along with the move to Brooklyn for the Islanders. The team did make some improvements over this offseason and could very well be a playoff team in 2014-15, which could allow Wang to leave the franchise on a marginally higher note.
Ledecky held a 24% minority stake in the Capitals before selling it back to majority owner and Ted Leonsis in 2001, who remains the team's owner. At the time, the Washington Times reported the sale freed up Ledecky to purchase a team of his own, which had been a long-term ambition his. Pending NHL board of governors approval, he may be achieving that dream with the Islanders.
Forbes.com recently valued the Islanders at $195 million, but if the reported Barroway offer of $420 million is true, it appears Wang could be making a sizable financial gain by selling the club if Ledecky and Malkin's agreement is north of that reported figure.