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  • José Luis Villegas /

    The Sacramento Kings' new majority owner, Vivek Ranadive, left, introduces fellow owners Raj Bhathal, center, and Paul Jacobs during the May 23 rally at Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Sacramento.

  • Bob Cook failed in a last-minute effort in bankruptcy court to retain his 7 percent stake in the Kings. The judge approved the share's sale to Vivek Ranadive's group.

  • Vivek Ranadive

Ranadive group gets OK to buy another 7 percent of Kings

Published: Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jun. 11, 2013 - 10:16 am

Consolidating their control of the Sacramento Kings, new majority owner Vivek Ranadive and his partners on Monday secured a bankruptcy judge's approval to buy another 7 percent share of the team.

The judge turned aside a last-minute purchase offer from former limited partner Bob Cook, who lost the 7 percent share when his real estate empire crumbled. The stake has been under the control of a court-appointed trustee since shortly after Cook went bankrupt in 2011.

Buying Cook's share will increase the Ranadive group's ownership stake to 72 percent. NBA Commissioner David Stern's office has already approved the latest deal, said NBA lawyer Martin Zohn, and the purchase could close Wednesday.

Ranadive is buying the share for $15.1 million – the same amount Seattle investor Chris Hansen was planning to pay. Hansen backed out after the NBA rejected his bid to buy controlling interest in the team and move the Kings to Seattle. After the NBA decision, Ranadive's group bought the team instead.

The $15.1 million will be distributed among various Cook creditors.

For a while, it looked like Cook's share might prove pivotal in the fight between Sacramento and Seattle for control of the team. In January, trustee David Flemmer said he thought whoever bought the 7 percent would have the right to match Hansen's bid for controlling interest – effectively blocking a move to Seattle.

But Flemmer never pressed that argument in court, and Hansen won the auction to buy the Cook share in March.

With Ranadive now stepping in for Hansen, Cook made an 11th-hour bid to retrieve his minority share.

On Monday, Cook's lawyer Daniel Weiss said the developer had lined up bank financing to buy the share back for $16.5 million, some $1.4 million more than Ranadive will pay. Weiss asked for another 30 days to work out a deal.

But the plan was dismissed by the trustee, the NBA and ultimately the judge as a risky move compared to the cash-in-hand offer from Ranadive.

"My movie reference is, 'Show me the money,' " said Judge Ronald Sargis. "We have $15.1 million on the table (from Ranadive), to be paid today."

Zohn said Cook had violated league rules by pledging his share as collateral for a loan years ago – the move that cost him the share in the first place. As a result, Zohn said the NBA might not let him buy the share back.

Sargis' ruling was a disappointment for Cook, who watched from a front-row seat in the courtroom.

"It's been a long journey," said Cook, who was part of the original group that moved the Kings from Kansas City in 1985. "It was never about financial gain. … It was all about Sacramento. I'm third-generation Sacramento, born and raised."

Despite losing his share, he said he's happy the team is staying in Sacramento.

Cook's bankruptcy was caused by problems at a hotel he built, Le Rivage in Sacramento. The hotel is now a Westin.

Call The Bee's Dale Kasler, (916) 321-1066. Follow him on Twitter @dakasler.

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