NBA's Thunder targeted by deceased McClendon's creditors
By Jessica DiNapoli
NEW YORK (Reuters) - This weekend, the Oklahoma City Thunder stands one game away from clinching a surprising spot in the NBA finals.
But away from the roar of fans and the glare of cameras, another battle involving the basketball team is brewing in a probate courtroom in its home city.
At stake is a roughly 20 percent interest in the Thunder held by Aubrey McClendon, the indebted Oklahoma energy magnate who died in a car crash on March 2.
Some of McClendon's creditors want a say over how the stake will be disposed of by his estate, viewing the basketball team as one of his few assets of value, according to a copy of a transcript from a May 13 hearing in probate court.
The lenders want the stake to be sold for top dollar but fear it will be sold for less than that to McClendon's wife, Kathleen, because she is family, said a lawyer representing a syndicate of banks led by Wilmington Trust that loaned $465 million to a company McClendon founded in 2013, American Energy Partners LP (AEP).
"We have been advised that Katie McClendon wants to purchase that Thunder interest," said the attorney, Arthur Hoge, in the court transcript reviewed by Reuters.
"If we have a reason to question a sale, because we don't think it's an arm's length fair market value sale ... we should have the right to come address that with the court," he said.
Attorneys for McClendon's estate said the creditors were getting ahead of themselves and should not yet be intervening in the probate process. They said the interest in the Thunder was not for sale at this stage, and any sale would need to satisfy qualifications set by the National Basketball Association. Continued...