The Milwaukee Bucks' investor group just got richer, more diverse, and more locally influential.
The Milwaukee Business Journal's Rich Kirchen reported Thursday night that a number of notable locals and one very deep-pocketed New Yorker are part of the minority investor group that was partially announced by principal owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry back in July:
The Milwaukee Bucks have disclosed the identity of a "substantial" new owner - New York City hedge fund manager Jamie Dinan - and a raft of additional Milwaukee-connected investors including Wisconsin Energy Corp. CEO Gale Klappa; Brookfield hospital and arena developer Jon Hammes; and a group of prominent African-Americans in business including Cory Nettles and Valerie Daniels-Carter.
Like principal owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry, Dinan is New York-based and made his reported
$1.6 $2.2 billion fortune by starting his own hedge fund, York Capital Management. It's not clear how "substantial" his stake in the team is, but we can probably agree that it's never bad to have another billionaire in the ownership suite--especially when you're trying to build a new arena.
But while Dinan is the money man among the newly-named investors, the locals are equally as intriguing and arguably even more important in the grand scheme of things. Nettles and Daniels-Carter are the key names in Partners for Community Impact (PCI), an investor group of five African-American business leaders who hope that PCI can serve as a new model for diversifying the NBA's ownership base. From the Bucks' official press release:
Daniels-Carter states that, "PCI represents a historic collective of African-American community and investment-minded business leaders. We see a unique opportunity to bring together a storied local sports franchise with a group of minority business leaders who are committed to ensuring that the benefits of this economic activity reach the full community. We think the PCI partnership model will be replicated throughout the NBA, particularly as a means of diversifying the ownership of NBA franchises."
The new team owners took action to join with the organization shortly after hearing Lasry speak at a Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) Board meeting in Milwaukee. The group approached the Bucks organization about coming in together as part owners, seeing their partnership as a natural extension of their past and continued investment in the future of Milwaukee and Wisconsin.
Make no mistake, that's a major win for both the Bucks as well as the NBA itself, particularly after the Donald Sterling fiasco and the more recent scandal in Atlanta. On the one hand there's the PR angle--it's always a good thing for the league's ownership ranks to better reflect the diverse communities that they serve. But there's also intrinsic value in broadening the cultural perspective of an organization's ownership group. So while we can only speculate as to the specific role that PCI and the rest of the Bucks' local investors will play going forward, on paper they have a unique opportunity to make the Bucks a more relevant partner with the broader community.
We also shouldn't confuse the increased diversity of the Bucks' investor group as limited to race or gender either. Having already supported the MMAC's arena study, Hammes brings invaluable experience as a developer of arena and other real estate projects--something that might be important to the Bucks over the next couple years. Like fellow investor Ted Kellner, Hammes is also a Republican with deep roots in Wisconsin politics, all of which should complement the Democratic ties of Lasry, Edens, and Sen. Herb Kohl to give the Bucks some serious bipartisan horsepower. And while none of that will guarantee that an arena deal gets done over the next year or two, deeper pockets and a broad base of well-connected local investors provide reason for continued optimism.
Complete bios as provided by the Bucks:
Michael Barber is the Chief Operating Officer of GE Healthcare. Barber has worked with GE since 1982, previously serving as VP of GE's healthymagination business strategy. He serves as Chair of the Milwaukee Chapter of the Elfun Society, is Regent at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, serves on the board of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), is a member and former Treasurer of Sweet Communion Baptist Church, and champions GE's African American Forum.
Valerie Daniels-Carter is Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of V&J Holding Companies. Daniels-Carter founded her company in 1982, with its corporate headquarters located in Milwaukee. She is a board member for the Green Bay Packers and American Automobile Association, and partnered with Milwaukee's Holy Redeemer Church since the 1990s to build a Boys & Girls Club, two schools, a medical facility and the Mother Kathryn Daniels Conference Center. V&J Holdings also is the largest female-owned franchisee in America.
Virgis Colbert is the former Executive Vice President of Worldwide Operations of Miller Brewing Company. Among his many corporate and community board commitments are Lorillard Tobacco (where he is Lead Director), STAG Industries, the National Center for Human Rights, and the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research. He also is the former Chairman and current Chairman Emeritus of Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and he is a former Chairman of the Board for Fisk University.
Charles Harvey is Chief Diversity Officer and President of the Johnson Controls Foundation. Harvey joined Johnson Controls in 1977, and has served in a variety of roles, including Group Vice President of Human Resources and Vice President of Diversity and Public Affairs during his tenure there. He serves as a board member for Aurora Health Care System, the United Way Greater Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Public Policy Forum, the Detroit Music Hall, Hampton University, the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF), and the Milwaukee World Festival. He is among the Co-Chairs of the Milwaukee Cultural and Entertainment Capital Needs Task Force. He is substantial donor and founder for the Wisconsin Scholars Program, which provides academic scholarships to disadvantaged African American young men attending Morehouse College.
Cory Nettles is the Founder and Managing Director of Generation Growth Capital. Nettles also serves as Of Counsel at Quarles & Brady LLP. He recently served as Secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. He is a board member for several organizations, including RW Baird Mutual Funds, WEYCO Group, Associated Bank, United Way of Greater Milwaukee, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, Teach For America, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, the University of Wisconsin Foundation and Usher's New Look Foundation.
Jon Hammes is the Managing Partner of the Hammes Company, focused on the development, financing and management of strategic real estate assets, specifically in the healthcare and sports industries. A University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate, Hammes serves on the boards of the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin Foundation, the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, the United Way of Greater Milwaukee, and Teach for America, as well as the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce, the Wisconsin Police Research Institute, WiCab Inc., and the American Enterprise Institute. He was elected to the Marquette University Board of Trustees in 2014.
Gale Klappa is Chairman and CEO of the Wisconsin Energy Corporation, the largest electric and natural gas utility in Wisconsin and one of the largest in the country. A Wisconsin native and graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he has overseen Wisconsin Energy since May 2004. Prior to joining Wisconsin Energy, he served as executive vice president, CFO and treasurer of Southern Company in Atlanta. Klappa is a member of the board of directors of Badger Meter Inc. and Joy Global Inc., and serves on the executive committee of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, the board of trustees of the Medical College of Wisconsin, the UWM School of Business Advisory Council, and the board of directors of the United Performing Arts Fund.