01/07/2021 - 13:15

Wildcats sale locked in

01/07/2021 - 13:15

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Sports Entertainment Group has agreed to buy the Perth Wildcats from long-time owner Jack Bendat for $8.5 million.

Wildcats sale locked in
The Perth Wildcats is being sold to Sports Entertainment Group. Photo: Perth Wildcats

Sports Entertainment Group has agreed to buy the Perth Wildcats from long-time owner Jack Bendat for $8.5 million.

On Thursday, SEG announced it had finalised an agreement to purchase the basketball team from Mr Bendat, ending his 14-year ownership.

The deal remains subject to final approval from the NBL, expected at the end of this month.

SEG, which changed its name from Crocmedia towards the end of last year, recently said it would fund the deal using existing cash reserves and available debt facilities.

Its cash on hand stood at $10.3 million, as at December 31.

Shares in the Sydney-based group were up 8 per cent on Thursday's news, trading at 27 cents at 2:52pm AEST.

Chairman Craig Coleman – who is one of three Perth-based directors on the SEG board – said the Wildcats deal fitted perfectly with the group’s “whole of sport” strategy.

“We see this as a strategic investment in a sport we’ve already enjoyed being part of and hope to build on the incredible legacy of Jack Bendat,” Mr Coleman said.

“We pay tribute to Jack today and look forward to honouring his wishes to keep the Perth Wildcats one of the biggest success stories in Australian sport and delighting fans in our state.”

SEG managing director Craig Hutchison said the deal came at a time when the group was increasing its presence in sport.

In 2018, SEG (then Crocmedia) purchased a 25 per cent stake in Melbourne United, followed by various production and radio rights deals.

That includes the acquisition of radio channel 621AM Spirit Bunbury (rebranded SEN Spirit) and the launch of SEN Stadium – a live commentary listening service for sports matches played at Optus Stadium.

Mr Hutchison, who will step down from his role as co-chairman of Melbourne United, said the Wildcats deal was in line with SEG's local sports commitment in Western Australia.

The board also includes Perth-based directors Andrew Moffat and Colm O'Brien.

“We look forward to supporting management of the Wildcats continue its strong connection to the WA community,” Mr Hutchison said.

“I’d like to also add my respect to the wonderful basketball and business legacy of Jack Bendat and thank him for the opportunity.

“We believe in the growth story of the NBL and stand with all clubs in growing the game under the leadership of Larry Kestelman.”

Mr Bendat has chaired the Wildcats since 2007, during which time he led the club to six NBL championships.

“Through hard work, we’ve created a community-first culture and a winning-culture, which has shown in our success both on and off the court,” he said.

“I have full confidence in the new owners to continue and build on the outstanding legacy of this iconic organisation.”

Mr Bendat bought into the club in 2006 before taking full ownership a year later.

The American-born businessman and philanthropist is the present owner of women's NBL team the Perth Lynx, as well as a former property developer and the founder of regional TV network GWN7.

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