HONG KONG—Businessman-sportsman Manny V. Pangilinan wants a majority stake if he finally decides to accept an offer to join a group of investors that will take over the struggling Sacramento Kings in the NBA.
“I have to admit, the idea is very titillating,” Pangilinan said during a recent briefing where he confirmed rumors that he had been invited to help keep alive the franchise of the financially strapped Kings.
As he does with most of his business ventures, however, he said he would not settle for being a passive investor.
“If we proceed, we’ll be seeking a majority stake,” said Pangilinan, who owns the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters and the Meralco Bolts in the Philippine Basketball Association and heads the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the governing body in amateur basketball.
“Whether we do it or not, it’s a great idea for a Filipino group to own an NBA team,” he said, adding that this would eventually open up the doors to having Filipino players or team coaches.
“It’s a great tribute to the country,” added Pangilinan, who was in Hong Kong to launch the new PLDT Global services for overseas Filipinos.
He said the group of investors was organized by retired former NBA All-Star Chris Webber, who was part of the Kings from 1998 to 2005.
Webber met with Pangilinan, chair of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company—among other firms—during a recent trip to Sacramento, where he visited the Kings’ home stadium, the Arco Arena.
He said he would need to invest between $200 million and $260 million for a stake in the Kings, and that this would be done in his personal capacity.
“That’s the ballpark figure [involved],” Pangilinan said.
If a deal pushes through, this will make him the first Asian to control an NBA franchise.
From one of the best teams in the NBA from 2001 to 2003, the Kings slowly lost their vaunted strength, and earlier this year failed to make it into the NBA playoffs.
The Kings have been suffering from financial losses in the past few years due to the team’s relatively poor performance.
The team is owned by the group of California businessman George Maloof Sr., which, due to its interests in US real estate, has had its own money troubles.