PBA commissioner Chito Salud formally announced the sale of the Air21 Express, owned by businessman Bert Lina’s Airfreight 2100 Inc., to the Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC), which was unanimously approved by the league’s board during its monthly meeting on Thursday.
The MPIC, under businessman-sportsman Manny V. Pangilinan, who owns the Talk ‘N Text and Meralco franchises in the PBA, will carry the NLEX Warriors name when the pro league kick off its 40th season on October 19.
“I am pleased to announced that today, the PBA’s board of governors approved unanimously the assignment, transfer and sale of the rights over an existing member team to MPIC which will carry the name NLEX Warriors,” Salud said in a brief press conference before the start of the semifinal game between Alaska and Rain or Shine at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Salud, though, declined to declare how much Air21 was sold for, pending the paper works that are being drawn between Airfreight 2100 Inc. and MPIC.
“I am not in a position to disclose the acquisition cost at this time because the parties are scheduled to submit the deed of assignment and transfer of the said franchise within the next couple of days or by early next week,” the PBA chief said.
But in regards to rumors that the Lina Group plans to buy an existing PBA franchise next year, Salud said he had no information on that for the time being.
“I have no information as to that (Lina Group buying another PBA franchise) and in fact, that was not discussed in today’s board meeting,” he said.
“But what’s discussed was exclusively the sale and transfer of the Air21 ballclub to Metro Pacific Investments and MPIC will be carrying the name NLEX Warriors,” he added.
Salud also mentioned that the reported trade that would send Air21 guard Joseph Yeo to Barangay Ginebra in exchange for a future draft pick was also not discussed in the board meeting.
“I have no information as to the player trades involving the transferor and transferee, they are not discussed by the board,” he said. “These are categorized as trades and it’s only the Office of Commissioner that will decide and there was nothing proposed.”
NLEX’s transition from its original application as an expansion team to the acquisition of an existing PBA franchise, leaves Team Kia and Blackwater as the two new teams for the pro league next season.
The remaining nine-member ballclubs are given until July 11 to submit their list of protected players. Players who are left unprotected will be automatically included in the dispersal draft scheduled on July 18, with Blackwater and Kia alternating in the picks.