Bloomberg News

Ex-NBA Team Official Sues Comcast Over 76ers Finder’s Fee

December 29, 2011

(Updates with company comment in seventh paragraph.)

Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) -- A Comcast Corp. unit was sued by former Portland Trailblazers President Bob Whitsitt over a finder’s fee related to the sale of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team.

Comcast-Spectacor LP refused to pay a $2 million fee to Whitsitt and Thomas Shine, a senior vice president for Reebok International Ltd., after they introduced the company to potential buyers, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Philadelphia.

“The reasons articulated by defendants for their failure to pay are patently frivolous and irrelevant as they impose conditions for payment that do not exist in the agreement between the parties,” Shine and Whitsitt said in the complaint.

A group led by Joshua Harris, the co-founder of Apollo Global Management LLC, agreed to buy the National Basketball Association team in July for about $280 million. The group, which made the purchase as a personal investment, includes David Blitzer, who helped create the European office of Blackstone Group LP, Art Wrubel and Jason Levien.

In the complaint, Shine claims he introduced Levien and other potential buyers to Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider in November and December 2010. Levien was identified as a potential buyer in a written agreement between the company, Shine and Whitsitt in January, according to the complaint.

Ike Richman, a spokesman for Philadelphia-based Comcast- Spectacor, said that the lawsuit is “without merit.”

“We will vigorously defend ourselves in court,” Richman said in an e-mail.

The case is Whitsitt v. Comcast-Spectacor LP, 11-cv-07842, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

--Editors: Stephen Farr, Mary Romano

To contact the reporter on this story: Sophia Pearson in Philadelphia at spearson3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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