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The National Basketball Association is coming back to Seattle thanks to a native son made good in hedge fund land.
A group of investors led by Valiant Capital Management founder Chris Hansen is in a deal to buy the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family for $525 million, according to the Associated Press and other media reports.
Hansen grew up in Seattle and now manages long/short equity firm Valiant in San Francisco, which runs $2.5 billion in hedge fund assets, according to the latest Absolute Return Billion Dollar Club ranking.
The sale and move must be approved by the NBA, but Hansen has already prepared to build a new $490 million stadium via a public-private partnership. As Absolute Return previously noted, Hansen personally guaranteed five years of debt payments on the arena in return for various loan backings and city approvals. The Seattle Times asked one city council member if there was anything the city wanted, but didn't get from Hansen, and the man responded, "Nothing. We got it all."
Kings fans and Sacramento officials aside, the parties in the deal were happy Monday.
"We are happy to announce that we have entered into a binding agreement with the Maloofs to purchase a controlling interest in the Sacramento Kings NBA franchise," Hansen said in a statement. "We would just like to extend our sincerest compliments and gratitude toward the Maloof family. Our negotiations with the family were handled with the utmost honor and professionalism and we hope to continue their legacy and be great stewards of this NBA franchise in the coming years and decades."
The Maloofs echoed the praise for Hansen. "We have always appreciated and treasured our ownership of the Kings and have had a great admiration for the fans and our team members. We would also like to thank Chris Hansen for his professionalism during our negotiation. Chris will be a great steward for the franchise,'' Kings co-owner Gavin Maloof said in a statement.
The SuperSonics left Seattle for Oklahoma City in 2008, becoming the Thunder. The Hansen ownership group also includes Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer and members of the Nordstrom department store family.
See also: Valiant Capital founder Chris Hansen: Free beer for Seattle arena deal