What’s next in Bills sale process

Here’s what’s next in the Buffalo Bills sale process.

After having received access to the initial sales book on Thursday, as first reported by Sun Media, potential bidders now must decide whether to proceed and actually bid.

WGRZ-TV’s Adam Benigni reported Thursday that prospective buyers have been told they have until July 29 to provide Morgan Stanley, the investment bank administering the sale, with a non-binding “indication of interest.”

That’s not all they likely have been asked to provide.

Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based Sports Corp. Ltd., is a long-time expert in the field of pro sports franchise sales. While not speaking specifically about the Bills sale, Ganis said usually the seller at this point will ask who is in each bid group, background information on each member, and information on how they will finance their proposed purchase, including amount of equity and debt for each of the group’s members.

After approvals? Indicative bids.

That is, Morgan Stanley will ask each approved bidder to submit a non-binding, first-stage bid. Indeed, a source involved with the sale has told Sun Media it is a two-step process: first indicative bids, then the trust and transaction team will select finalists, then those finalists will submit second bids.

Once approved, bidders in pro sports franchise sales typically request and receive access to much more detailed financial information. That is, “the books” — or what is commonly called the “data room.” Expect that in the Bills sale.

The data room “visit” might even be done virtually, via a secured website.

How does a seller choose finalists?

“Typically, they select who they feel are the likeliest candidates to provide the price they’re looking for, on the terms they’re looking for,” Ganis said, “and has the financial ability to perform — plus win approval from the league.

“You allow the bidders first to bid what they’re comfortable in bidding, and then the investment backer goes back and discusses it with them to understand it more fully and potentially to try and enhance the terms for the seller.”

Ultimately, the trust chooses a preferred bidder and the transaction team negotiates a final purchase/sale agreement.

Can all this take place by the end of the summer — in time for approval at the next NFL owners meeting, Oct. 6-8 in Detroit? Possibly.

“Recognize something, though,” Ganis said. “The (Wilson) family and the trust can change the process any time they choose to. This is not a public bid. This is not a publicly traded company. They don’t have to follow (U.S.) Security and Exchange Commission rules, they are not going through some legal auction process, and they are not a public entity.

“So they can set the ground rules, change the ground rules, halt the process or accelerate the process any time they choose to.”

So if the trust prefers a certain bidder, and that bidder offers a satisfactory price at the get-go, it can end the process without notice — and choose that bidder.

“The family and the trust can take as much or as little time as they choose,” Ganis said. “They can even suspend the sale, if they so choose. If the numbers don’t come in where they think they should, they can just suspend the whole process.

“They have the luxury of complete flexibility.”

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