Tepper reaches agreement to purchase Panthers

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports (file photo)

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Hedge fund manager David Tepper signed an agreement to purchase the Carolina Panthers, the team announced Wednesday.

The sale is expected to come in at $2.2 billion, marking a record for the highest sale price for an NFL team. That price would surpass the $1.4 billion for which the Buffalo Bills were sold in 2014.

“I am thrilled to have been selected to be the next owner of the Carolina Panthers,” Tepper said in a statement. “I have learned a great deal about the community and the team over the past several months and look forward to becoming part of the Carolinas. I want to thank Jerry Richardson and the other Panthers partners for all they have done to establish and develop the NFL in the Carolinas. It has been a remarkable 25-year journey and I promise to build upon the Panthers’ success on the field and in the community.”

Tepper will have to sell his five percent minority stake in the Pittsburgh Steelers and have the deal approved by three-fourths of NFL owners (24) at the owners meetings in Atlanta next week. He bought his share of the Steelers months after the team won the Super Bowl, with that value now estimated at $122.5 million given Forbes’ recent list of the Steelers’ worth.

The 60-year-old Tepper founded Appaloosa Management, a hedge fund company based in Miami Beach (Fla.) and is worth an estimated $11 billion, according to Forbes.

Under league rules, Tepper must put up at least 30 percent of the selling price.

Richardson, 81, announced he was selling the Panthers in December after the league took over an investigation looking into allegations of workplace misconduct.

Sports Illustrated published a report on Dec. 17 alleging that Richardson sexually harassed multiple women and used a racial slur toward a team scout. The report said the Panthers had reached settlements with at least four former employees regarding inappropriate workplace behavior by Richardson.

Richardson, the franchise founder, ceded day-to-day control of the team in December to Tina Becker, who was promoted to chief operating officer.

“Bringing the Panthers and the NFL to the Carolinas in 1993 was enormously fulfilling for Rosalind and me and all of our partners,” Richardson said in a statement. “We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support over the last 25 years. You have taken the Panthers into your hearts and made them part of this warm and supportive community. We want to thank all of our past and present players, coaches and staff for their hard work in making the Panthers a great success both on the field and in the community. The personal relationships we have enjoyed have been very meaningful to us.

“I look forward to turning the stewardship of the Panthers over to David Tepper. I have enjoyed getting to know him in this process and am confident that he will provide the organization with great leadership in both its football and community initiatives. I wish David and his family the very best as they enter this exciting new phase of their lives.”

Per the Charlotte Observer, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said that “The matter remains under review” when asked Tuesday about the status of the independent investigation led by Mary Jo White.