Exclusive: Sterling needs $2 bln sale of NBA's Clippers to pay debt

Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:51pm EDT
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By Eric Kelsey

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - If the disputed $2 billion sale of professional basketball's Los Angeles Clippers is not completed, it could force team owner Donald Sterling to sell off some of his real estate assets to pay back debt, the executive who manages his holdings told a court on Monday.

Darren Schield, the chief financial officer of Sterling's Beverly Hills Properties, testified that Sterling's attempts to block the NBA-record sale his estranged wife brokered would open the door for banks to call the real estate billionaire's $480 million in liabilities.

"We would have to start selling our real estate," Schield said in Los Angeles Superior Court, adding that Sterling owns about $2.5 billion in property. "We'd have no choice."

Schield was called to testify by lawyers for Sterling's wife, Shelly Sterling, who has asked a probate court to confirm her as having the authority to sell the Clippers to former Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Schield is a witness to Shelly Sterling's claim the deal must be completed even against her husband's wishes so debt can be paid off.

Schield testified that he warned Sterling against revoking the family trust that owns the Clippers and other holdings as a maneuver to block the sale because it would allow banks to call its loans.

"I told him this revocation would open up Pandora's Box and there would be severe consequences for us," Schield said.

Bank of America Corp BAC.N told Sterling's company it plans to issue a notice of default on the $350 million Sterling owes the lender after he moved last month to revoke trust, said Adam Streisand, the attorney for Ballmer.   Continued...

Real estate mogul and Los Angeles Clippers NBA basketball team owner Donald Sterling attends the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok