Joshua Harris reported ready to step in and save the New Jersey Devils

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Harris has apparently thrown the Devils’ current owner Jeffrey Vanderbeek a rescue line with the club, who play in the National Hockey League were reportedly in dire financial straits. The only fly in the ointment may well be how the situation will sit with the followers of NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, which Harris also owns.

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 (L-R) Marjorie Harris, Allen Iverson and Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Joshua Harris / Getty

/ By Gali Raz /

It would be fair to say that Joshua Harris, a founding partner in Apollo Global Management headed by master venture capitalist, Leon Black, knows a thing or two about financial restructuring. That’s why he has not only the financial resources but also the courage and understanding to look at a prospect like the New Jersey Devils rapidly assess that he has the capability to save them from the prospect of bankruptcy, and possible foreclosure by the NHL.

For Jeffrey Vanderbeek at least that ordeal is now a thing of the past with Harris apparently having already to take the Devils off of his hands, paying an undisclosed sum as well as assuming all of the days that the club has incurred over the last two years as Vanderbeek attempted to the club into profitability.

Vanderbeek has been the majority shareholder in the Devils for more than nine years having gradually built up his shareholding in the company.

Onlookers in the sports industry are predicting that once again Joshua Harris may well have pulled off another financial coup, some of the when he achieved when he became principal owner of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers in 2011, paying just $280 million for the franchise. A place that will have raised considerably since then as have all the value of the other NBA teams.

According to unofficial sources Vanderbeek’s New Jersey Devils were sinking fast in the ice hockey league, with debts of close to $230 million, which they were paying off at the rate of around $14 million annually, barely enough to cover the interest.

Chicago Bulls v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Six

 Owner Joshua Harris celebrates with the fans after the 79-78 win over the Chicago Bulls in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Wells Fargo Center on May 10, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

And despite the generous terms that Vanderbeek had walked out with his creditors, the New Jersey team was reportedly having a devil of a time even trying to meet that minimal commitment. When it began to leak out that Vanderbeek had failed to meet his last interest payment, then it was only a matter of time before either a buyer was found or the NHL would arbitrarily take possession of the franchise. If this situation had occurred it would not be for the first time, with the NHL previously having taking management and financial control of the Phoenix Coyotes when they found themselves in a similar situation.

The Devils financial situation was exacerbated last season when they succeeded only in finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference, making for the second time in three seasons that New Jersey missed the post season after 13 straight appearances.

Although neither Harris, Vanderbeek or any representatives of the NHL have made any official statements regarding the purchase of the club, industry observers also expect that this time around, Joshua Harris will look to a similar package as he did with the Philadelphia 76ers, bring in a team of investors from the world of business, sports and entertainment as well as a few close personal friends.

Among the investors in the football club are David S. Blitzer of the Blackstone Group, Jason Levien, well known NBA agent and Sacramento Kings executive, and stars of the silver screen Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett Smith, among a select group of others.

 

Joshua “Josh” Harris was born and raised in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Harris went on to graduate from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, going on to study for an MBA at the Harvard Business School.

Josh Harris’s professional career began at Drexel Burnham Lambert, where he met up with Leon Black and Marc Rowan. The trio left to found Apollo Global Management in 1990, and today 22 years later he remains one of three managing partners and the company, along with Black and Rowan.

As of 2012, Harris’s estimated net worth was estimated to be around $1.5 billion.

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