Published On: Thu, Apr 17th, 2014

Herb Kohl sells the Milwaukee Bucks to Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens

Kohl, who has owned the Bucks since 1985  is reckoned to have received  around $550 million for the NBA team.

milwaukee_bucks - getty

Herb Kohl wound up his close to thirty  year spell as owner of the Milwaukee Bucks at a press conference held at the team’s Harris Bradley Center before the team’s final game of the season.

In his farewell speech Kohl,  a former U.S. senator, emphasized that with the new owners in place he is enthusiastic about the future of the NBA team, who have not enjoyed the best of times on the parquet in recent seasons.

Herb Kohl has made no secret of the fact that he was looking for new investors during the course of the season, going as far as to bring in  well-known  investment banker Steve Greenberg, who has been involved in a number of occasions in the past  in similar situations, to help look for investors.  According to reports Greenberg received a total of nine bids for the club, all of which were personally vetted by Kohl.

Eventually Lasry and Edens were chosen as being  the most qualified to become the new owners, was a major factor in Kohl’s decision being their long  term commitment to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee.

478px-Herbert_Kohl,   _official_photo

Marc Lasry is chairman and CEO of the Avenue Capital Group, while Edens is chairman of the Fortress Investment Group. Both are based in New York.

At the press conference attended by both Lasry and Edens, goals for the Bucks  for the next five to ten years were laid out, with Lasry stating that one of the principal goals was to  ”bring a championship to this city and try to build  and become a part of the community.”

One of the first steps for the new owners will be to construct a new playing arena to replace the Harris Bradley Center, which opened its doors for the first time in 1988,  with both Lasry and Edens immediately committing a further $100 million towards the project, which Kohl will be matching.

According to Wesley Edens, final plans for the new arena could be on the table within the next 12 months, and construction could be completed two years later for an estimated cost of around $400 million.

Approval  for the change of ownership for the  Milwaukee Bucks is scheduled to come up for discussion at the NBA within the next few days, although the general consensus is that league commissioner Adam Silver will rush to “rubber stamp” the takeover deal having already   praised Kohl for his ”historic and unprecedented” gesture  of  endowing a $100 million gift to the city of Baltimore which should go a long way towards securing the future of the franchise in the city.

(L-R) Wesley Edens,   Marc Lasry/ Getty

The Bucks went into the last game of the season against the Atlanta Hawks already holding  the worst record in the NBA for the season at 15-66, and proceeded to make that 15-67 losing 111-103 on the night.

However, for the local fans, who have had little opportunity to cheer all season, there was a special opportunity to present  a long and loud ovation for Herb Kohl, who has done so much for the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Bucks.

 

“Herb” Kohl graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1956 later going on to earn a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School in 1958.

After graduation, Kohl began his professional career as a real estate investor, later diversifying into the stock market, through his Kohl Investment company.

In the mid-1960s, Herb and his  brother Alan inherited the family-owned retail empire established by the father Maxwell, with Herb taking up the role of president in  1970, masterminding the company’s merger with BATUS Inc two years later, remaining with the company for another seven years, before entering the world of politics eventually becoming  the United States Senator from Wisconsin in  1988, remaining in the post until  2013, after not seeking re-election.

Marc Lasry emigrated to the U.S. with his family from Morocco when he was just seven years old, began his career in debt management, later diversifying into distressed securities when he founded company debt brokerage Amroc Investments in 1989 in partnership with his sister Sonia Gardner.

In 1995 the brother and sister pairing established the Avenue Capital Group with a working capital of just seven million dollars, succeeded in growing the hedge fund to such a level that it now handles more than $20 billion in assets.

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