Rubin, the owner of the sports apparel retailer Fanatics, on Monday was one of three known bidders with the financial strength to be a majority owner who notified the NFL with a formal letter of intent required by the league.
The other two are hedge fund billionaire David Tepper and Ben Navarro, the Charleston, South Carolina-based founder and CEO of Sherman Financial Group.
Rubin also owns stakes in the 76ers, the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and Crystal Palace of England’s Premier League.
Rick Rothacker and Jim Morrill of the The Charlotte Observer report that Rubin has lined up another person with NBA ties in his group:
Michael Rubin, the e-commerce billionaire who is considering a bid for the Carolina Panthers, has lined up a deep-pocketed partner: the billionaire minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, Joseph Tsai, sources familiar with the matter told the Observer.
Two sources told the Observer that rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs is also joining Rubin’s group, and another source said the owner of the Fanatics sports merchandise retailer is looking to build a diverse group that could include Combs as well as NBA star Steph Curry.
Three sources said Rubin has no plans to move the team out of Charlotte if he is chosen as the new owner. The sources talked on condition of anonymity because of the confidential nature of the sales process.
Curry expressed his interest in joining a potential ownership group in the Panthers, the team he grew up rooting for in Charlotte, when hip-hop mogul Combs tweeted his desire to buy the franchise in early December.
“It’s a pretty interesting opportunity,” Curry said several weeks later. “I’ve had conversations with plenty of people about the right way to go about it and kind of the different approaches I could personally take. Obviously I have a day job but I’ve got people that are plugged in and trying to see how to make that happen.”
Curry and Combs would be high-profile members of what ESPN described as “a strong, diverse group” being assembled by Rubin, who has amassed an estimated fortune of $3 billion via various e-commerce enterprises. But even that mountain of cash would be seriously dented by the Panthers’ $2.3 billion valuation.
The Panthers were put up for sale after the NFL’s internal investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct by founding owner Jerry Richardson.