Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos Jr. said today that there was an "excellent possibility" he would be able to sell part of the NHL team to a local buyer or group of buyers.
Karmanos, meeting with N&O editors and reporters at the RBC Center, said he hoped to have an agreement completed in the next two to three months.
"We're in the process of talking to a lot of deep-pocket people," he said. "I have an awful lot of friends outside the community that have expressed interest. I really, really feel strongly that I want local ownership, and I haven't had anybody say, 'No, I'm not interested.' If you had no interest at all in three months, then bring somebody else in."
Karmanos said he could not rule out selling the team or a larger percentage of the team, but did say an offer to buy the team would have to be so high as to bowl him over. The Hurricanes were valued at $177 million by Forbes' most recent team valuations.
"Three hundred million dollars, 350 million dollars, yeah, I'd sell it," Karmanos. "I'm not going to sit here and say I wouldn't. You'd have to consider that."
Karmanos said last week that he had hired Allen & Co., a New York investment firm, to help with the sale of the 49-percent stake in the team owned by Thomas Thewes, his former business partner and co-founder of Compuware Corp. Thewes died in September 2008, and Karmanos said he felt a "personal pressure" to sell Thewes' interest in the team, but no financial or legal pressure from the estate.
"I'm trying to recapitalize the team," Karmanos said. "I'm not trying to sell it. And there's a big difference."
Karmanos said a "billionaire in the Carolinas" had expressed interest but did
not give a name. Karmanos said he has had discussions with such Triangle business executives as Jim Goodnight, president and CEO of SAS; Quintiles CEO Dennis Gillings; Matthew Szulik, chairman of Red Hat; and Red Hat co-founder Bob Young, CEO of Lulu.com.
Karmanos said bringing in local investors could add $10 million to $12 million a year in revenue.
Karmanos said he would not sell to someone interested in moving the team, nor he said would the NHL approve it.