As the sale of the Carolina Panthers nears the finish line, some of Charlotte’s richest families are in for a big pay day.
Jerry Richardson owns 48 percent of the team, leaving the other 52 percent to a group of about a dozen wealthy individuals and families from around the region.
The minority partners have little say in the team’s business operations but include some of the most well-known families in the state, including members of the Belk family, who sold their Charlotte-based department store chain in late 2015 for $3 billion, as well as Leon Levine, who founded Family Dollar Stores.
A key question in the deal is whether any of the minority partners will remain investors in the team after the sale, said sources familiar with the process who were not authorized to speak on the record. By doing so, the new majority owner would not need to pay as much cash upfront to buy the team.
“It’s been a great ride and a benevolent dictatorship (led by Richardson) was the best way to go. If the new boss is somebody that we like … then we probably will stay in to some extent,” said Charlotte businessman Cameron “Cammie” Harris, a longtime minority owner. His brother, prominent real estate developer Johnny Harris, is also a minority partner.
Cammie Harris said he doesn’t know how many minority owners will stay on with the team after a new owner takes over. “I would think it would be a hard thing to make that decision before you know who the new owner is going to be,” he said.
A Charlotte investment banker who specializes in mergers and acquisitions said it’s not unusual for investors to have an opportunity to roll over their money in such deals.
“It all comes down to the new ownership group and whether they want them, and whether the people that are currently in want their money out, or whether they want to just roll into the new deal and wait to get liquidity at some point in the future,” said the banker, who did not want his name used because he is unfamiliar with specifics of the Panthers’ sale.