ANAHEIM, Calif. – Broadcom Corp. (BRCM) co-founder Henry Samueli (search) and his wife, Susan, have agreed to buy the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (search) hockey team from The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) for undisclosed terms, both sides said Friday.
The announcement of the sale of the team came just over a week after the National Hockey League (search) announced it was canceling the 2004-05 season, the first North American professional league ever to scrap an entire season, due to a labor dispute.
One person familiar with the matter said the deal was for more than $50 million. The Los Angeles Times reported earlier that Samueli had originally bid between $50 million and $60 million.
Disney paid an estimated $50 million expansion fee to enter the NHL in 1993, naming its franchise after the little-league team featured in a family movie its studio unit made the year before.
The Ducks were profitable in their early years, fueled by strong merchandise and ticket sales, but have lost money in the past two seasons despite an appearance in the Stanley Cup (search) finals in 2002-03.
Disney has been trying to sell the Ducks for the past three years, but many observers had assumed that a final deal for the team would not be reached until after the NHL had resolved its season-ending labor dispute.
Sports analysts had estimated that the Ducks could be worth about $100 million early in the sale process, but more recently the NHL's labor dispute and fan backlash have thrown the financial prospects for the whole league into doubt.
Disney, which owns the ESPN sports network, has rolled back from its aspiration to build a regional sports network around its holdings in Anaheim, California -- also home to Disneyland.
In 2003, Disney sold the Angels Major League Baseball Franchise to Arte Moreno.
Samueli, who was previously part of a group looking at buying the Angels, said he would keep the Ducks in Orange County, just south of Los Angeles. His investment company controls the management company that runs the Arrowhead Pond, current home to the Ducks.
The sale must be approved by the National Hockey League.
Samueli, a billionaire, co-founded communications chip maker Broadcom in 1991.
The NHL could not be reached for comment.