Former Gov. Ed Rendell, citing accounts he has received from people "who are around the Sixers," said Tuesday that a deal to sell the NBA franchise appears to be "days away."
Rendell said he first heard late last week that negotiations were under way to sell the team and that the completion of talks appeared close to being finalized.
"It's been reported to me that they're very close to fruition," Rendell said in a telephone interview.
Rendell, a former political fund-raising powerhouse with connections far and wide, said that he had "no idea" why Sixers owners Ed Snider and Comcast-Spectacor were looking to sell the team now, but that it was his impression that Comcast "has been looking to sell the Sixers, if the right offer came along, for a while."
"The rumor is that Ed would have a small piece of the team," Rendell said of Snider, who reportedly would retain ownership of the Wells Fargo Center under the deal being negotiated.
ESPN.com reported that the interested buyers include fellow Wharton graduates and private-equity players David S. Blitzer of the Blackstone Group International Partners L.L.P., in London, and Joshua Harris, senior managing director of Apollo Global Management in New York.
Rendell said he had conducted business with both firms during his time as a public servant but did not know Blitzer or Harris personally.
Messages left for Blitzer and Harris in New York and London were not returned Tuesday.
An avid sports fan and a friend of Snider's, Rendell sounded a note of disappointment at the prospect of the team's being sold.
"Let me say that from the standpoint of a fan, I'm sorry to see this happen, if it does happen, because I think Ed Snider has been a good owner," Rendell said. "I think he made a good hire in Ed Stefanski and I think a good hire bringing in Rod Thorn, but especially a good hire in bringing Doug Collins back," he said of the team's general manager and coach.