MANILA, Philippines – Filipino businessman Manny V. Pangilinan finally confirmed rumors that he has been invited to help keep the struggling Sacramento Kings franchise afloat.
In an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer in Hong Kong, Pangilinan said that he wants a majority stake if he does decide to accept the offer to join a group of investors that will take over the Kings.
“I have to admit, the idea is very titillating,” said Pangilinan.
According to Pangilinan, the group of investors was organized by retired former NBA All-Star Chris Webber, who was the star of the Kings from 1998 to 2005. They met during Pangilinan’s recent trip to Sacramento, where he visited the Arco Arena, the Kings’ home stadium.
“If we proceed, we’ll be seeking a majority stake,” said Pangilinan, the chair of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company and owner of the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters and the Meralco Bolts in the Philippine Basketball Association.
Pangilinan is also the head of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.
Pangilinan told Inquirer that he will need to personally invest between $200 million and $260 million for a stake in the Kings.
“Whether we do it or not, it’s a great idea for a Filipino group to own an NBA team,” Pangilinan said. “Filipino coaches and players could be part of an NBA team.”
If he decides to join the group of investors, Pangilinan will become the first Asian to control an NBA team.
Pangilinan has expressed some concerns regarding this business venture, however. “We would be absentee owners,” he said in an interview with the Business Mirror. “We are here and the NBA team is there while we manage it here. It’s different when you manage a business in the country where you live.
“Hopefully, we could invite some Filipino investors in the equation.”
Pangilinan’s group will reportedly meet with the Kings’ representatives next month.
The Sacramento Kings organization has been mired in financial issues for the past few years, due in part to the team’s poor performance.
They last made the NBA postseason in 2006.
The team is owned by the group of California businessman George Maloof Sr., which has been battling money troubles as well.
Earlier this month, the group decided to keep the team in Sacramento for another year. -- With a report from Business Mirror