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Hurricanes’ potential $500 million sale to Chuck Greenberg is ‘bogus’ news, per report

Forbes is refuting that the Hurricanes are close to a $500 million sale.

Montreal Canadiens v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

A report that the Carolina Hurricanes are close to being sold to former Texas Rangers CEO Chuck Greenberg in a deal worth roughly $500 million is “bogus,” according to Forbes’ Mark Ozanian.

On Thursday, Bloomberg’s Scott Soshnick reported that Greenberg was close to purchasing the Hurricanes in a deal that would keep the team in Raleigh, ending the possibility of a relocation to Quebec City, Hartford, Seattle, or another city.

However, Forbes reports that the deal is not close, the final price tag won’t be anywhere near $500 million, and at this point, Greenberg hasn’t even raised enough money to make the acquisition happen.

Yes, Chuck Greenberg is trying to buy the money-losing NHL franchise. But all Greenberg has right now is a non-binding letter of intent. Moreover, the real price (enterpise value) is nowhere near $500 million (perhaps the $500 million includes future money the potential buyer is promising to put into the team?), according to my sources.

The Hurricanes’ current owner, Peter Karmanos Jr., led a group that purchased the Hartford Whalers in 1994 for $47.5 million and then moved the team to Carolina in 1997. He released a statement Thursday confirming there was an offer to sell the team, but that he would “continue to evaluate his other options, including retaining his ownership of the team.”

The reported $500 million price tag would’ve been a massive increase in value for the Hurricanes compared to recent estimates. Last year, Forbes estimated the franchise was worth just $230 million, the lowest value of any team in the NHL.

One issue for the Hurricanes that led to Forbes ranking them the least valuable franchise in the NHL was a lack of profitability. Based on the Nov. 2016 estimate, the team was losing $15 million per year. Ozanian says the Hurricanes have pushed their debt up to $200 million.

Greenberg has a history of ownership in sports, the most notable being the Rangers in MLB. He was part of the group, along with Nolan Ryan, that bought the Rangers in 2010, and he took on the role of CEO. He left the franchise less than a year later, however, when he stepped down from his position and sold his interest in the team.

This is not Greenberg’s first foray into the business of hockey, either. He’s a lawyer, and in 1999, he represented Mario Lemieux as the former Pittsburgh Penguins superstar bought the franchise to lift it out of bankruptcy. He currently serves on the board of directors for Lemieux’s charitable foundation, so there’s an ongoing relationship there.

For Hurricanes fans, a completed sale would qualify as good news after the lack of certainty that loomed over the team. However, it sounds like the reports that a deal was close were premature, and the wait for movement on a sale continues. For more on the situation, check the coverage at Canes Country.

(This post has been updated with Forbes’ report.)