The New Jersey Devils may be sold by owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek, a former member of the executive committee at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., according to a person familiar with the potential sale.
Vanderbeek, 53, has hired investment bank Moag & Co. in Baltimore to oversee the sale of the National Hockey League club, and has sent out letters to prospective buyers soliciting interest, said the person, who has seen the letter and requested anonymity because the team hasn’t given him permission to discuss it.
Vanderbeek said in a statement that Moag has been hired, although he has no desire to sell the team.
“My partner, Brick City, and I have different visions for the franchise,” he said. “While Brick City has a right, under our partnership agreement, to explore a sale and Moag & Co. has been retained to assist in these efforts, I anticipate maintaining a controlling interest.”
Vanderbeek took control in the team in 2004 in a sale valued at $125 million, according to Forbes. The magazine reported in December that it is worth $218 million on $104 million of revenue.
The three most-highly valued NHL franchises were the Toronto Maple Leafs ($505 million), New York Rangers ($461 million) and Montreal Canadiens ($408 million), according to Forbes.
A 20-year Lehman veteran, Vanderbeek ran the firm’s capital markets division from 2000 to 2002, then became head of global risk management, private equity and strategy when the company was the fourth-biggest securities firm by capital. He left in 2004 to run the Devils.
The Devils, who play in the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, are the worst team in the NHL with 35 points.
“The NHL is a league that clearly has momentum; sponsorship, gate receipts, revenue, TV ratings it’s all up,” said Paul Swangard, managing director of the University of Oregon’s sports marketing center. “I can’t blame an ownership group for putting a team up for sale now given all the good news that’s coming out of the NHL at the moment.”