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The nation’s very first African-American billionaire, Robert Johnson, is suffering a cash crush so severe, reports Peter Lauria, which he must hock his NBA team to Michael Jordan for a tune.

If the nation’s initially African-American billionaire, Robert Johnson, bought the expansion Charlotte Bobcats NBA team in 2002, his highest-profile move had been employing the absolute most famous athlete on the planet, Michael Jordan, to operate the group. In a twist dense with paradox, the employee has get to be the savior: a couple of weeks ago, Jordan bought the team for pennies in the buck.

The sale underscores Johnson’s serious financial situation. Four resources with firsthand knowledge tell The constant Beast that the 63-year-old creator of BET desperately needs money. The Bobcats purchase ended up being precipitated by a need for exchangeability to invest in his various other investment obligations and avoid becoming insolvent, relating to business colleagues of Johnson’s and resources involved in the purchase.

“He’s post lots of cash, and he’s almost lost it all.”

Indeed, three sources especially involved with the group sale said Johnson was wanting to ink an offer before an upcoming interest payment in the team’s $40 million in bank financial obligation, so he could conserve the bucks, even though it was just for some million bucks. That, with the deal’s terms, implies that Johnson is dangerously close to becoming illiquid. Though reports stated he initially desired between $325 million and $350 million for the Bobcats, the NBA appreciated the offer at $275 million. But that includes the assumption of debt alongside liabilities taken on by Jordan. Their Airness just paid Johnson a fire-sale price of $25 million cash in the deal, these three sources state.

“If he performedn’t get out today, ” claims a former colleague of Johnson’s which requested to keep anonymous for their prior relationship, “he’d be [out of cash] soon.”

“Bob is within lots of companies that require most upfront capital expenditures, like resort hotels and gaming, ” adds a monetary globe origin near to Johnson, “so he has to husband cash flow for the possessions that are developing rather than the ones which are not.”

Johnson declined to comment for this tale. a representative of this RLJ businesses, the umbrella company that houses Johnson’s possessions, declined remark “on the sale of this Bobcats or any financial things relating to the RLJ Companies or Mr. Johnson.”

Johnson founded BET in 1979 with $15, 000 of his very own cash and a $500, 000 loan from Liberty Media’s John Malone, creating a development powerhouse for African-American community with a variety of rap music video clips featuring scantily clad girl and socially aware coverage of activities like Million Man March. He achieved billionaire status utilizing the purchase of BET to Viacom for $3 billion in 2000.

Per year later Johnson hit the Forbes 400 “Richest Us americans” number with a web worth of $1.3 billion. While he’s still thereon listing, Forbes estimates that intervening nine years have actually slashed their net well worth by an astounding 58 %, to $550 million a year ago.

A sizable chunk of Johnson’s fortune, conservatively expected at $400 million, was awarded to their ex-wife Sheila inside their divorce (she continued to get married the judge whom presided across divorce). Another amount is held in Viacom and CBS stock, caused by BET’s sale to Viacom and that company’s subsequent split from CBS. While those two shares are up year-to-date, with CBS trading at around $14 per share and Viacom trading at about $35 per share, both tend to be down substantially from their particular earlier highs of greater than $30 per share for CBS and $40 per share for Viacom in 2007, a drop that has also slashed into Johnson’s net worth.

The remainder of Johnson’s cash is tangled up in a byzantine community of organizations, partnerships, and financial investment funds. There’s RLJ Equity Partners, a private-equity fund managed because of the Carlyle Group; RLJ-McLarty-Landers Automotive Group, a network of car dealerships in Arkansas; Carribbean Cage, a video lottery terminal company; and Our Stories Film, a production studio launched in partnership with The Weinstein Company, among others.

As exclusive organizations, the monetary performance of most of these companies is difficult to determine. There was, however, some public information by which overall performance could be gleaned. For example, the RLJ-McLarty-Landers Automotive Group touts on its website that its determined gross revenue for 2009 ended up being $625 million, up from $400 million in 2008. What's doesn’t say is the fact that revenue gain had been most likely accomplished through acquisition of 15 car dealerships just last year, amid one of many worst consumer vehicle purchasing years on record, rather than through organic growth—meaning Johnson must invest extra cash to develop revenue.

Carribbean Cage highlights the reality that it has licenses to install and operate its terminals this kind of locations as Turks & Caicos, St. Kitts, Jamaica, and Barbados, among other unique locales. Needless to say, Johnson had to very first pay to acquire video gaming licenses in those countries and from now on has got to construct cash to setup the terminals. He also sunk $8 million into the RLJ Kendeja Resort & Villas in Liberia that opened in June.

Among Johnson’s most visible exclusive holdings is Urban Bank Trust, an African-American-controlled banking and home loan organization. According to FDIC documents, Urban Bank Trust had net income of just under $8 million this past year, but lost almost $7 million in 2008.

There are two main typical threads that explain to you every one of Johnson’s holdings: they've been difficult possessions that aren’t quickly convertible to money, and are asset performs, indicating they don’t throw off lots of money but usually appreciate in value over time. Unfortunately for Johnson, the meltdown features crimped the values of real-estate, and financial, video gaming, and car assets have gone straight down in price, taking his fortune down together.

Source: www.thedailybeast.com
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