The Panthers could be close to having a new owner. One of the bidders, Steelers minority owner David Tepper, has dropped out of the race, Ken Belson of the New York Times reports.
Belson notes only two bidders — Ben Navarro, who owns the Sherman Financial Group investment firm, and Alan Kestenbaum, Bedrock Industries’ CEO — are left. Michael Rubin bowed out of the pursuit last month.
A hedge-fund billionaire, Tepper was the buyer whom Belson reports many NFL owners sought as the new Panthers owner. A vote on a new owner is expected to be held at the late-May league meetings in Atlanta. Belson writes that a winning bid could be chosen by the end of this month. Twenty-four owners must vote in favor of the new owner for the sale to be finalized.
Navarro is believed to have submitted a $2.6 billion bid, Belson reports, and it’s unclear if he will cover that price without other investors. A $2.6 billion sale would be an NFL record. A Navarro vote might not be as easy for the owners, with Belson reporting at least three have voiced concerns about him buying the Panthers. Albert Breer of SI.com tweets Navarro vetting’s been ongoing for a few weeks. Tepper had enough capital to buy the team without other investors being involved, which appealed to some NFL owners, and wouldn’t need to be approved since he already is a part-owner of the Steelers.
The Panthers aren’t a threat to relocate in the near future, per Belson, but he adds that there won’t be many restrictions to prevent the buyer from moving the franchise. The Panthers are bound to Bank of America Stadium only through this season.