• SportFM

Wildcats under new ownership, Norton re-signs



Australia's most successful basketball franchise is set for new ownership, with the Sports Entertainment Group (SEG) agreeing to terms to purchase the club from current owner Jack Bendat.


According to the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) consideration for the acquisition is $8.5 million before adjustments and will be funded from existing cash reserves.


SEG has proposed to dilute or divest its current 25% shareholding of Melbourne United.


The deal is subject to final NBL approval on July 30.


SEG owns the Sports Entertainment Network, and its chief executive Craig Hutchison is chairman of reigning NBL Champions Melbourne United.


Mr Hutchison said he will step down from his role at United, but intended to retain a stake in the club.


Dr Bendat took control of the Wildcats in 2007 from former captain Andrew Vlahov, and oversaw the most successful period in the club's already illustrious history.


During the 14 years Dr Bendat has owned the club, it has claimed six of its 10 NBL titles, while crowds have grown dramatically since the Wildcats relocated to RAC Arena in 2012.


"I've thoroughly enjoyed my time as chairman of the Perth Wildcats, but the time is right to move on. I have full confidence in the new owners to continue and build on the outstanding legacy of this iconic organisation." the 96 year old said.


The news came on the same day that vice-captain Mitch Norton re-signed with the club, the dual championship winner agreeing to terms on a new three year deal that ties him to the club until the end of the 2023-24 season.


“We genuinely love the city of Perth, I think our lifestyle here played a big factor in the decision to stay,” Norton said in a statement in the club's website.


“It’s always nice when the coaches and club wants you back, it means you’re doing something right! But there’s definitely unfinished business, and I’d love to see the core group of guys back together.


The young guys will be better for the experience this year, and will use that feeling of coming up one short to fuel them through the off-season."