The National Basketball League (NBL) is looking for at least $30 million in the upcoming sale of the Tasmania JackJumpers, according to people familiar with the plans who were granted anonymity because the negotiations are private.
The bidding process is set to begin next month for the JackJumpers, which will be the first NBL team to sell since the Perth Wildcats went to Craig Coleman’s Sports Entertainment Group (SEG) for $8.5 million in 2021. However, comparing the two transactions is difficult because the Wildcats sale—which included SEG divesting its 25% stake in Melbourne United, a different NBL team it owned up until last year—was considered a non-economic transaction.
This latest sale should serve as a test of how the market not only values the JackJumpers but also the growing Australian league, which was founded in 1979, as a whole. The single-entity league, which has been in talks with private equity firms about potential investment partnerships, experienced record fan engagement this past season and is expected to score a more lucrative media deal when its contract with ESPN expires next year.
As NBA team valuations skyrocket—the Phoenix Suns recently sold for $4 billion—athlete investors and others have turned to the 10-team league as a way to pick up ownership stakes at lower valuations and develop hands-on experience.
The JackJumpers, who reached the NBL Grand Finals last year, present a unique value proposition due to its passionate fanbase, rising brand awareness across the state and a favorable arena deal tied to NBL parent company LK Group.
The sale isn’t expected to command as much as franchises in the bigger Aussie markets such as Melbourne or Brisbane. The Sydney Kings, which won a second straight NBL title earlier this month, are valued at roughly $50 million, according to a source. Still, several NBL teams struggle to draw fans, especially after the pandemic.
The NBL is owned by Australian developer Larry Kestelman through his LK Group, and he’s inserted a stipulation in the JackJumpers’ license that at least 30% of the ownership group must be made up of Australians, in an effort to retain local roots. There’s been an influx of American ownership over the last five years in the NBL; nearly half the league’s teams currently are led by American consortiums—some include former NBA stars like Shawn Marion and Zach Randolph—and another such group could take over before the start of next season.
The league is strongly considering splitting 25% of the sale profit with the nine other teams, according to a league source. Any sale would need formal approval from Kestelman and the NBL office.
Founded in 2020, the JackJumpers are the newest team in the league—the first NBL team in Tasmania since the Hobart Devils folded in 1996—and play in the MyState Bank Arena in Hobart. The multi-purpose facility, which can hold more than 4,000 people for basketball, regularly sells out for JackJumpers’ games. The Tasmanian government, which sponsors the team, committed $15 million last year to build a high-performance practice facility.
At the same time, the team is looking for a new CEO after Simon Brookhouse stepped down earlier this month—chief commercial officer Christine Finnegan and general manager Jorrick Chivers have taken over. Beyond that, the JackJumpers’ small market and travel expenses could temper the market.
Having recently reached a new CBA deal, the league hopes to continue growing its international presence, specifically in the U.S. The NBL is relatively unknown stateside but has gained traction through its Next Stars program, which has featured future NBA players who chose to skip college ball, including LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton. There are also plans for league expansion in coming years to Southeast Asia or potentially other major cities in Australia.
The upcoming sale will be indictive of what the market thinks of the league’s trajectory and the sustainability of its business model.