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Spend sport money at home

Spend sport money at home

A group of Dubai investors have their eyes on an NBA basketball team. Sam Potter would rather see them fritter their cash away on regional sports projects.

August 17, 2010 2:20 by

Another week, another story about Middle East investors snapping up sporting franchises. Normally its soccer, of course, with the English Premier League being the target of choice for investment vehicles in the region. Just look at Manchester City, enjoying the financial benefits of being owned by Abu Dhabi United Group, a private equity company backed by the UAE royal family. Then there was the fuss surrounding a Portsmouth football club, briefly owned by Sulaiman Al-Fahim and then Ali Al-Faraj. Or more recently there was a Middle Eastern consortium negotiating to take Liverpool off the hands of the battling US owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett. The Americans, it seems, have not enjoyed their introduction to the world of professional European soccer.

What will be interesting to see now are how things work out for Middle Eastern investors looking to purchase in America, because according to media reports that could be the next step in the sports-ownership merry-go-round. The National reported this week that a group of investors from Dubai is considering buying National Basketball Association team the Detroit Pistons. Three other consortiums are in the running to buy the Pistons: one led by the Mike Ilitch family-owned group; one led by the Houston businessman George Postolos; and a third headed by the Beverly Hills billionaire Tom Gores.

The Detroit Pistons are owned by Karen Davidson, who inherited the team following the death of her husband, Bill. Mrs Davidson has said she is considering a sale of the team, which Forbes valued at US$479 million (Dh1.75 billion) last year. Apparently it is not often an NBA team comes onto the market.

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