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Microsoft wants nothing to do with the Sacramento Kings sale

While Sonics fans believe Kings will be playing in Seattle after the sale is complete to Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer, Kings fans in Sacramento believe they have a shot at keeping the team they've had for 28 years. (Kelly L. Cox photo)

In case California politicians are wondering – and they are according to a terse letter sent last week – Microsoft has nothing to do with the possible purchase of the Sacramento Kings NBA team.

Last week a California politician called for a review of the company’s technology contracts with his state.

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg raised concerns last week about Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s involvement in the proposed purchase of the Kings.

“I cannot stand idly by while a prominent out-of-state company that has significantly profited from business with the State of California actively attempts to acquire and remove one of my State and my region’s leading private assets,” Steinberg wrote.

Ballmer is part of investor Chris Hansen’s proposed agreement with the team’s owners to buy a majority stake in the Kings for $341 million, based on a franchise valuation of $525 million.

Microsoft wants to make it clear that Ballmer’s investment in the NBA team has nothing to do with the software company.

“The effort to build a new professional sports arena in Seattle was initiated and is led by San Francisco-based developer, Chris Hansen, who has announced a number of investors, including Steve Ballmer. Microsoft Corporation is not involved in the effort,” Microsoft says in a statement to The Sacramento Bee newspaper.

Here is the full letter from the state senator to the head of the California Department of General Services:

I read with distress recent media accounts reporting that Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft Corporation, is actively engaged in discussions and may now have a general agreement to purchase NBA’s Sacramento Kings — a franchise which has generated significant jobs and revenue for both our region and the State of California for 27 years — and move it to another state.

If true, I am troubled that a company and a CEO that has for so long enjoyed a prosperous and beneficial working relationship with the State of California and its taxpayers would blatantly engage in activities which are clearly and measurably detrimental to our State’s job and revenue base – not to mention use profits earned through business with our State to appropriate a California-based asset.

As a legislative leader with direct budget authority, I’m obviously concerned about what impact these events might have on state and regional revenue, as well as our recovering economy.

I would appreciate your help – as the director of the department in charge of most state procurement – in obtaining some information that in light of these reports is certainly relevant to California taxpayers, particularly those in the Sacramento region.

– How many technology contracts and at what total cost to state taxpayers does Microsoft Corporation currently have with the State of California?

-In total dollars, how much has the State of California paid Microsoft Corporation for its products and services over the last 10 years?

– Can you send my office terms of contracts and representations made by Microsoft Corporation regarding their contracts with the State?

-To your knowledge, does any other state in the United States pay more annually to Microsoft Corporation for products and services than the State of California?

– What is Microsoft Corporation’s record of performance with the State of California?

As a state legislator, I am well aware that I have no direct role in the day-to-day management of the State’s technology procurement processes, but I cannot stand idly by while a prominent out-of-state company that has significantly profited from business with the State of California actively attempts to acquire and remove one of my State and my region’s leading private assets.

Thank you in advance for your time and assistance in responding to this information request. Please do not
hesitate to contact my office to discuss this issue in more detail.


Senate President pro Tempore
State of California
6th Senate District
cc: Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
Secretary Anna Caballero, State and Consumer Services Agency

There are more signs deep-pocketed investors are getting behind Sacramento’s efforts to stop the sale of the Sacramento Kings to Chris Hansen, after fitness magnate Mark Mastrov met Monday with Sacramento business leaders and the city’s Mayor, Kevin Johnson.


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