Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has formed a partnership with the Golden State Warriors' four limited partners in an effort to purchase the team from Chris Cohan, according to multiple sources.
Michael Marks, Jim Davidson, John Thompson and Fred Harman own a 20 percent stake in the Warriors, which was acquired in 2004 to bolster Cohan's cash position. They have no say in day-to-day operation of the team.
Now Ellison has aligned himself with the foursome, though his motives are unclear. Ellison could not be reached for comment and the limited partners were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements.
One league source with knowledge of the situation speculated that Ellison is making the move in order to have insider information about the organization that will enable him to make a better determination of its true value while maintaining controlling interest once he gets the team in an open bid sale that has been whittled to four potential buyers.
"It is one more brilliant move by a shrewd negotiator," the source said.
The sale of the team is being brokered by Sal Galatioto, who could not be reached for comment for this story.
But one source who has been tracking the sale pointed out that Ellison sold $1.3 billion worth of Oracle stock on the same day that Galatioto sent out books to all potential buyers.
Galatioto and Cohan informed the four bidders this past week that they had made the cut and will be given access to the Warriors' financial records and business relationships.
What is unclear about Ellison's relationship with the four limited partners is what that would potentially mean for the ultimate sale.
For instance, would Ellison give Cohan only 80 percent of the final sales price and allow the limited partners to keep their 20 percent stake, thus reducing Ellison's initial cash payment and potentially Cohan's capital gains hit?
Or would Cohan require a 100 percent payment for fear that he is not optimizing his sales potential because of the limited partners' involvement with Ellison?
"They could structure the sale as easily or as complicated as they want," one source said.