April 07. 2014 11:00AM - Last modified: April 07. 2014 11:37AM

Private equity filing fuels speculation about Bucks

  
As speculation builds toward a pending sale of the Milwaukee Bucks to a new group of investors, a prominent commercial real estate developer and project manager in Brookfield has filed federal documents to initiate a private offering for $450 million.


Jon Hammes, founder and managing partner of Hammes Co., is listed as the director of the Hammes Partners II (A) L.P., which filed a public notice of exempt offering of securities with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to initiate the private equity offering to raise $450 million.

The value of the Milwaukee Bucks franchise was estimated at $405 million by Forbes magazine in January.

Hammes Co. executives declined to return phone calls today to inquire whether the private equity offering may be related to an acquisition of the Bucks or the financing of a new arena in Milwaukee.

Hammes Co. was hired by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce in January to provide advice on whether a new, multi-purpose sports arena should be built or the BMO Harris Bradley Center should be renovated.

Hammes Co. is a health care consulting firm that provides strategic planning, facility development and real estate advisory services to the health care industry. The company also has a sports facility development division and was the construction management firm for construction of the Kohl Center in Madison, the renovation and expansion of Lambeau Field in Green Bay and construction of MetLife Stadium in New Jersey.

A source close to the negotiations said the fact Hammes was hired by the MMAC to explore options would not preclude the company from pursuing an option to purchase the team or build a new arena.
Sources said Bucks owner Herb Kohl has hired Allen & Co., a New York-based consulting firm, to bring in a new team of investors to buy the team.

On Saturday, ESPN NBA analyst Bill Simmons wrote on Twitter that a deal to sell the Bucks is imminent.

"Hearing the Milwaukee Bucks are very VERY close to being sold pending league approval. Might be done already. PS: Not to the Seattle guys," Simmons wrote.

In a subsequent Tweet, he wrote, "Off last tweet: the NBA has been helping Herb Kohl quietly shop the Bucks around w/o letting it turn into a stay-or-leave soap opera."

Kohl purchased the Bucks in 1985 for $18 million. Sources are speculating that if Kohl can find a new group of investors willing to take the team off his hands, he could use the bulk of the proceeds from the sale to help finance a new arena that would keep the team in Milwaukee.

Sources said the NBA will require a commitment to build a new arena as a condition of keeping the team in Milwaukee.

BizTimes has reported that a regional commitment of public financing for a new arena in Milwaukee is not likely to be feasible. County boards in Ozaukee, Racine and Waukesha have already approved preemptive resolutions against regional taxation for a new arena in Milwaukee.

Todd Kibler, a partner and chief financial officer of Hammes Co., is listed as a co-director on the private equity filing, as is Patrick Hammes, co-founder and managing director of Hammes Holdings, a private family office established to manage the capital of the Hammes family.

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