76ers Owner Agrees to Sell NBA Team to Apollo’s Joshua Harris

The owner of the Philadelphia 76ers agreed to sell the National Basketball Association team to a group led by Joshua Harris, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management LLC.

Comcast-Spectacor, the unit of Comcast Corp. that owns the team, didn’t disclose financial terms in an e-mailed statement last night. Harris will pay about $280 million, a person familiar with the transaction said July 7.

“As a basketball fan who attended college in Philadelphia, and with family roots here, I have always felt a strong connection to this city and the 76ers,” Harris said in the statement. “We look forward to helping the 76ers organization build on this past season’s accomplishments.”

Harris co-founded Apollo Management in 1990 and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and a master’s degree from the Harvard Business School.

Shares in Apollo have dropped 14 percent to $16.39 since they were offered to investors at $19 each in March, valuing Leon Black’s private-equity firm at $5.93 billion.

Comcast-Spectacor said a month ago that it was exploring a sale. The agreement doesn’t include the Wells Fargo Center or the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers, which Comcast-Spectacor will retain.

The 76ers “will remain a long-term tenant of the Wells Fargo Center and will have a long-term cable broadcast agreement for its games with Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia,” the seller’s statement said.

Comcast is the biggest U.S. cable television operator and bought a controlling interest in NBC Universal from General Electric Co. in January.

Blackstone’s Blitzer

The new ownership also includes David Blitzer, who moved to London from New York in 2002 to create the European office of Blackstone Group LP, the biggest private-equity firm.

The purchase is a personal investment by the buyers, who also include Art Wrubel and Jason Levien. Apollo and Blackstone aren’t involved in the transaction.

The sale, which is subject to approval by the NBA’s board of governors, is expected to be completed later this year, Comcast-Spectacor said.

The 76ers finished 41-41 last season, seventh in the Eastern Conference.

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