Walton-Penner enter sales agreement with Broncos for record $4.65 billion

Walton-Penner enter sales agreement with Broncos for record $4.65 billion

The former and current Walmart chairmen will run the Broncos as a family business.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — The Denver Broncos have entered into a sales agreement with Rob Walton, his daughter Carrie Walton-Penner and his son-in-law Greg Penner to make the Walmart family heirs the team’s next owners.

A source tells 9NEWS the sales price went for a U.S.-sports-franchise-record $4.65 billion. The previous sports franchise sales price record was $2.275 billion set in 2018 when David Tepper bought the Carolina Panthers.

Four years later, the Broncos more than doubled the previous sports record.

To win the Broncos’ bid, the Walton-Penner group beat three other bidding groups that were led by Josh Harris, Jose E. Feliciano and Mat Ishbia.

“I have enjoyed getting to know Rob Walton, Carrie Walton Penner and Greg Penner throughout this process,” Broncos CEO and president Joe Ellis said in a statement. “Learning more about their background and vision for the Denver Broncos, I am confident that their leadership and support will help this team achieve great things on and off the field.

“I sincerely appreciate the cooperation of our football leadership, executive team and staffs at both UCHealth Training Center and Empower Field at Mile High over the last few months and years. We also want to recognize the work of Allen & Company and Proskauer Rose, which have guided us through this process in a timely and efficient manner.

“While this purchase and sale agreement is pending approval from the NFL’s finance committee and league ownership, today marks a significant step on the path to an exciting new chapter in Broncos history.”

The sales agreement between Walton-Penner and the Broncos will now go to the NFL finance committee for review and expected approval. A special league meeting of owners is expected to be called sometime next month. At that point, 24 of 32 owners must give their consent for the Walton-Penner group to take control of the owners. One vote should come from Stan Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams, whose wife Ann is Rob Walton’s cousin.

Also joining the group is Mellody Hobson, who has an extensive corporate executive background.

Rob Walton and Greg Penner said in a joint statement: “We are thrilled to be selected to move forward with the purchase of the Denver Broncos! Carrie, Greg and I are inspired by the opportunity to steward this great organization in a vibrant community full of opportunity and passionate fans.

“Having lived and worked in Colorado, we’ve always admired the Broncos. Our enthusiasm has only grown as we’ve learned more about the team, staff and Broncos Country over the last few months.

“We are excited to announce that Mellody Hobson, Co-CEO of Ariel Investments, has agreed to join our ownership group. Beyond her role at Ariel, Mellody is an influential leader in corporate and civic organizations across the nation.

“Mellody currently serves as Chair of the Board of Starbucks Corporation and is also a director of JPMorgan Chase. We know she will bring her strategic acumen and leadership perspective to our team.

“Thank you to Joe Ellis and the staff of the Broncos for the first-class manner in which they have conducted this sale process. In addition, we thank Hogan Lovells for their guidance and support in this effort.

“We look forward to earning the confidence and support of the NFL as we take the next step in this process. When the necessary approval procedures are met, our family is excited to share more with Broncos fans, the organization and the community.”

Save Money. Live Better. That’s the motto of the Walmart discount franchise that has made members of the Walmart family billionaires many times over. And, if necessary, put up $4.65 billion to buy the Denver Broncos.

Rob Walton is the oldest son of the late Sam Walton, who founded the Walmart discount retail stores. Walmart’s slogan changed from “Always Low Prices. Always,” to “Save Money. Live Better,” in 2007.

Rob Walton appears ready to veer from his longtime company’s slogan to spend big on the Broncos.

>>Video below: Klis & Tell: Broncos announce sales agreement with Walton-Penner group

When Sam Walton died of cancer in 1992, his oldest son Rob took over as Walmart’s chairman and remained in the top post until 2015, when his son-in-law Greg Penner became Walmart’s chairman. Penner has long been married to his college sweetheart Carrie Walton, Rob’s daughter.

Rob Walton, 77, is also the uncle of Ann Walton, who married Stan Kroenke in 1974.

Kroenke currently owns the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, and with his son Josh Kroenke also owns the NHL Colorado Avalanche, the NBA Denver Nuggets and the Ball Arena where the Avs and Nuggets play their home games.

Rob Walton played football for the College of Wooster in Ohio before transferring to the University of Arkansas, where he graduated in 1966 with an accounting degree. He then attended Columbia Law School in New York and after earning his Doctor of Jurisprudence started his professional career with a law firm in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his birth home. When Rob was 26, his dad lured him back to his hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas, and the family Walmart business, where his legal expertise was often used in taking the company public and in ever-expanding real-estate deals.

There was the one-year sabbatical for Ironman training in 1985.

Robson Walton has had property addresses listed in Scottsdale, Arizona, Bentonville, Arkansas, Aspen, Nederland and Boulder. The Penners have had property addresses listed in Snowmass Village and Aspen.

There are several Walton grandchildren living in Colorado and the Denver area. Per Walmart’s financial report from Oct. 31, there were 105 retail stores in Colorado – 70 supercenters, 4 discount stores, 14 neighborhood markets and 17 Sam’s Clubs — that employed more than 31,000 workers. Including players and coaches, the Denver Broncos have about 375 employees.

Rob Walton’s net worth has been listed in the $60 billion to $70 billion range, depending on the financial media outlet. 

The Walton-Penner groups wants to bring in former Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning as either a minority investor or advisor, or possibly both. 

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