Before we get to the newest ownership scuttlebutt, I’d like to give a post-Thanksgiving thank-you to everyone at Canes Country for pitching in to keep the car on the road while I was on vacation. You know the good work that the writers here do on a daily basis, and I can vouch for the fact that they’re just as dedicated behind the scenes as they are on the front end. The biggest compliment the site can receive is that (hopefully) no one noticed I was gone, which proves the high quality of the people we have on our staff. Thank you all!
Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos has long maintained a preference that, even after selling some or all of the team, he would continue to have a management interest in the club, involved in major decisions even though he may not be the sole owner anymore.
If a report from RDS (of all places) is correct, it looks like he may get his wish after all.
The Quebec sports network’s François Gagnon reported this morning that Dallas businessman Thomas Dundon has put in a bid to purchase an interest in the Hurricanes. Dundon, who founded subprime auto-loan company Drive Financial, sold a 90% stake in his company to Spanish banking giants Santander in 2006, and left the company, rebranded Santander Consumer, in 2015 following investigations into the company’s business practices by federal authorities and the Federal Reserve.
The translation below is from Google Translate, cleaned up by me into readable English:
The Carolina Hurricanes are about to be sold. According to credible information, current owner Peter Karmanos Jr. has agreed to sell his team to Thomas Dundon, a wealthy Dallas businessman.
Further information from Raleigh confirms Dundon's interest in the Hurricanes, but suggests, however, that it would be more of an association between Karmanos and Dundon than an acquisition by the Texan.
The amount of the transaction is not known at the moment.
The lengthy process of due diligence in which all ramifications of the transaction are analyzed is apparently in its final phase. Once this procedure is completed, the transaction will be submitted to the 30 governors for approval. Commissioner Gary Bettman and the governors of the 31 teams will be meeting in Palm Beach, Florida on December 7 and 8.
It is too early to say whether the confirmation of the sale and the official entry of Dundon into the NHL’s ownership group will coincide with this meeting. But the opportunity would be timely.
Dundon cashed in when he sold the company Drive, a firm specializing in auto loans, to Banco Santander. In a press release dated December 7, the Spanish bank confirms having paid $636 million to Dundon in exchange for 90% of the Dallas company. The AutoFinance News specialty publication mentioned a $713 million transaction.
Drive - Thomas Dundon remains CEO of the company despite the transaction - is associated with more than 10,000 auto dealerships in North America. Through these dealers, it provides auto loans whose total sum approaches $3 billion.
According to Forbes, Dundon, a 46-year-old economist at Southern Methodist University (SMU), is among the select group of U.S. billionaires with a personal fortune estimated at $1.1 billion, $500 million short of being one of the 400 richest Americans.
A follow-up article this afternoon from WRAL’s Jeff Gravley quotes Hurricanes president Don Waddell saying that the team has not heard from Chuck Greenberg in “four or five weeks,” and while not coming out and saying that Greenberg is definitively out of the running to purchase the team, Waddell leaves the impression that Greenberg’s offer for the team has fallen through.
However, given that Greenberg and Dundon share ties to the north Texas business community, it’s possible that Greenberg may have played a matchmaker, or that Dundon was one of the investors Greenberg was courting when his apparently unsuccessful call for investment was still active. Greenberg is a resident of the Fort Worth suburb of Westlake and owns the Frisco RoughRiders in the AA Texas League, as well as formerly serving as the president of the Texas Rangers.
Waddell did not comment to WRAL about the identity of any potential suitors for the team, but continued to express optimism that a deal would eventually be sealed that will keep the team in Raleigh, which is both Karmanos’ and the NHL’s preference.
With the board of governors meeting scheduled for the end of next week, any deal would need to be well into the finalization stage for it to be up for a vote. Following their December meeting, the board typically does not meet again until near the NHL Draft in June.
Should Dundon purchase a stake in the team, it would get Karmanos back to a similar situation as he had prior to 2007, when managing partner Thomas Thewes died and left Karmanos as the sole owner of the club. Karmanos and Thewes, along with current Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, purchased the Hartford Whalers in 1995.