Ares’s Ressler Said to Bid for NBA Atlanta Hawks With Grant Hill

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Ares Management LP’s Billionaire Co-Founder Tony Ressler
Ares Management LP’s Billionaire Co-Founder Tony Ressler, seen here, has entered the bidding for the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks, fronting a group that includes former All-Star Grant Hill, three people familiar with the matter said. Photographer: Jonathan Alcorn/Bloomberg

Ares Management LP’s billionaire co-founder Tony Ressler has entered the bidding for the National Basketball Association’s Atlanta Hawks, fronting a group that includes former All-Star Grant Hill, three people familiar with the matter said.

The people requested anonymity because the bidding process is private.

Ressler declined to comment through a spokesman, Bill Mendel at Mendel Communications. Hill declined to comment, and Hawks spokesman Garin Narain has said the club will not comment on the sale process until it’s complete.

The Ressler-led group also includes BTIG LLC’s Steven Starker and Marquis Jet co-founder Jesse Itzler, one of the people said. Mark Rachesky, whose MHR Fund Management is the largest investor in Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., is no longer a part of the group, the people said. Aaron Palash, a spokesman for Rachesky at Joele Frank, declined to comment.

The Hawks hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Inner Circle Sports to manage the sale of the team, which is on the market after lead owner Bruce Levenson disclosed a racially insensitive e-mail. Levenson’s group bought the club for $189 million in 2004.

Goldman Sachs spokesman Andrew Williams declined to comment. Inner Circle Sports founder Rob Tilliss didn’t return an e-mail.

Clippers Bid

Ressler and Hill were part of a group that unsuccessfully bid on the Los Angeles Clippers, which were bought last year by former Microsoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer for a record $2 billion. Ressler would be investing personally in the Hawks, one person said.

Hill and former NBA player Junior Bridgeman had been part of another group bidding on the Hawks. That group, which included ComPsych Corp. founder Richard Chaifetz, had been eliminated from the process.

Memphis Grizzlies limited partner Steve Kaplan is fronting another group bidding on the team, which will enter the playoffs as the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

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