Forbes: Bills receive 3 bids under $900M

BUFFALO, NY-- Forbes Magazine says the Buffalo Bills have received three bids to purchase the team, but they're all below $900 million.

ARTICLE: Forbes article on the Bills' bids

Forbes has reported the following:

--Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula has submitted a bid for $890 million

--The Toronto group, which includes Bon Jovi, Rodgers and Tanenbaum, has submitted a bid for $820 million

--Donald Trump has submitted an $809 million.

The article cites two sources familiar with the sale, but says they are not involved in the sale as of yet.

A source close to the bidding tells 2 On Your Side's Adam Benigni the Forbes numbers are "in range". Another source says Tom Golisano has submitted a bid, but another source says he did not.

On Thursday afternoon, 2 On Your Side spoke with Dominic Chu of CNBC. Here's his analysis of the situation:

Q: Forbes has reported that the three initial bids for the Buffalo Bills are all below $900 million. Does that surprise you?

Chu: It's only interesting that it could be that low because we've become so accustomed to hearing about that $2 billion figure that Steve Ballmer just paid for the Los Angeles Clippers. And that's the reason some are saying that the Bills sale process may not be living up to certain expectations. Granted, Buffalo is not as large of a media market as Los Angeles is, but people thought by a $2 billion transaction happening, that would lift the value of a lot of the other teams up. And this Bills value maybe is a surprise to some.

Q: Final reports are due in two weeks. Could we see a drastic change in the offers by then?

Chu: You think of it as a house analogy. If you want to go buy a house, the seller lists the property at a certain price. This may be a negotiating tactic on the part of the three bidders that are submitting these reportedly non-binding proposals. What it's going to come down to is when these binding proposals come out, whether they start to meet a little bit more towards where Morgan Stanley and the Wilson family trust thinks the property should go for. And at that point, we start to see whether or not people are really serious about getting that particular franchise.

Q: How do the non-disclosure agreements affect the bidding process?

Chu: They're typical in a lot of these transactions, especially for sensitive-type properties, where you open your books to other people and they kind of get an idea of what the inner-workings are. Non-disclosure agreements are typical for any kind of merger or acquisition. In this case, it's a possible bidding for a property.

Q: Does Buffalo's market size change the bidding process?

Chu: I don't think it really changes the way it's going to play out… It's very hard to value a professional sports franchise. Forbes and other organizations have done this, and they look at all different kinds of factors that go into their model. What you can't really account for is the scarcity value of a professional sports franchise, no matter what it is-- whether it's hockey, or baseball, or football, or anything like that. The reason is, things like this do not come up for sale very often. And that's the reason you saw such a shocking price -- $2 billion -- paid for the Clippers. We haven't seen these things transact so much. Even though it's a smaller market, it doesn't necessarily mean the price is higher or lower. What it comes down to is supply and demand. There's not a lot of supply, and when a little piece does come out, there is demand for it, so maybe that will drive the price higher. It's hard to just say for a small market, it's going to be less than this, or more than this, just because it's a smaller market. It all comes down to how badly someone really wants this team.

The interesting part about this whole dynamic is who's in the process of bidding for it. You've got Pegula, who's known to the Buffalo area, obviously, and then you've got this Toronto-based organization that has a rocker like Bon Jovi, and then you have Donald Trump. Those are three very interesting personalities bidding for it. What's interesting is the bids they've submitted, have all fallen below where the estimated franchise value – at least according to Forbes – is. So maybe they're seeing something the bankers aren't, and that's going to be interesting to see how they reconcile that, given what the bankers think they can get for the sale.


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