NBA cancels Sterling termination, sets stage for $2.5b sale

Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer answers questions at the company's annual shareholder meeting in Bellevue, Washington on Nov 19, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer answers questions at the company's annual shareholder meeting in Bellevue, Washington on Nov 19, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The NBA halted its bid on Friday to terminate Donald Sterling's ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers, setting the stage for the US$2 billion (S$2.5 billion) sale of the club to Steve Ballmer.

Sterling's wife Shelly Sterling negotiated the sale of the club to ex-Microsoft chief executive Ballmer on Thursday.

"The NBA, Shelly Sterling and the Sterling Family Trust today resolved their dispute over the ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers," the league said in a statement.

"Under the agreement, the Clippers will be sold to Steve Ballmer, pending approval by the NBA Board of Governors, and the NBA will withdraw its pending charge to terminate the Sterlings' ownership of the team." The league said Shelly Sterling and the Sterling trust had also agreed not to sue the NBA, and to indemnify the league against lawsuits from others, including from Donald Sterling.

Prior to the NBA's announcement, attorney Maxwell Blecher told AFP that Donald Sterling was planning to sue the league.

Sterling has argued that the NBA had no grounds to sanction him for racist conduct detrimental to the league because the racially charged remarks for which he has been punished came in a private conversation recorded without his permission.

Blecher has said that Sterling was ready to take action not only over the league's effort to strip him of the club but also over the lifetime ban and US$2.5 million fine meted out by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

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