Mario Lemieux (Bruce Bennett via Getty Images)
According to a published report, Penguins owners Mario Lemieux & Ron Burkle have begun the process of a potential sale of a portion or all of the team. The duo bought the Pens out of bankruptcy in 1999 for some $107 million – & the team's value is believed to be more than five times that amount today.
According to a published report from TSN.ca, Pittsburgh Penguins owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle have started an investigatory process in regard to the sale of some or all of the franchise.
Billionaire investor Burkle and Hall-of-Famer Lemieux, who purchased the team out of bankruptcy in 1999 for an estimated $107 million, have hired the financial services firm Morgan Stanley to explore a sale, according to the report. This wouldn't be the first time Lemieux has sought either a new investor or a new owner outright for the Pens: in 2006, he agreed to sell the franchise to former Blackberry magnate Jim Balsillie before their pact disintegrated around rumors of relocation.
In 2007, Lemieux and Burkle decided to retain their ownership of the team and announced the Penguins would remain in town on a 30-year-lease to play in the current Consol Energy Center. A November, 2014 Forbes.com analysis pegged the Pens' current value at $565 million.
UPDATE: The Penguins confirmed late Wednesday they had hired Morgan Stanley.
“We conduct periodic reviews of our business and, because we have received several inquiries about the franchise in recent years, we decided to engage Morgan Stanley for their insight and counsel,” Lemieux and Burkle said in a joint press release. “After buying the team out of bankruptcy, ensuring its long-term future in Pittsburgh and creating a strong foundation for continued success, we believe it is time to explore our options.”
Lemieux continued on to say he and Burkle do not intend to step away completely from the organization.
“Our goal all along was to solidify the franchise both on and off the ice,” Lemieux said. “Our star players are signed to long-term contracts, they’ve got a deep and passionate base to support them, and I believe the Penguins are well-positioned for the future. Regardless of what happens, I plan on staying involved with the team in some capacity, and Ron and I plan to retain an ownership stake.”