Microsoft's ex-CEO Steve Ballmer 'wins Clippers bid'

Steve Ballmer. File photo Steve Ballmer left Microsoft in February but still own shares in the company

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Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer has reached a deal to buy the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team for a potential record deal of $2bn (£1.2bn).

Shelly Sterling, who owns the Clippers with her husband through a trust, said she was "delighted" with the deal.

Donald Sterling was banned from the sport for life after he was recorded making racist remarks.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) later agreed to begin the process of selling the team.

However, Mr Sterling's lawyer Bobby Samini argues that as a co-owner of the team he has to consent to the Clippers' sale and is refusing to back the deal. "That's his position. He's not going to sell."

Local media reports say that details of the deal are unclear and many questions relating to it are unanswered.

NBA owners are due to meet in New York on Tuesday to consider Mr Sterling's remarks. The latest development could pre-empt a move by the NBA to force Mr Sterling to sell his interest in the team.

Mr Ballmer said in a statement that he was honoured to have his name put forward to the NBA for approval. He thanked the league for "working collaboratively" with him throughout the sale.

"I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win - and win big - in Los Angeles," he said. "LA is one of the world's great cities - a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness."

Shelly Sterling, wife of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, watches a Clippers game Mr Ballmer's bid was accepted by Shelly Sterling, wife of Donald Sterling
LA Clippers players face Oklahoma City Thunder. Photo: May 2014 A forced sale of the LA Clippers would require the approval of three-quarters of the 30 team owners in the NBA

In her statement, Shelly Sterling said Mr Ballmer "will be a terrific owner".

"We have worked for 33 years to build the Clippers into a premier NBA franchise. I am confident that Steve will take the team to new levels of success," she said.

The statement said that she made the deal "under her authority as the sole trustee of The Sterling Family Trust, which owns the Clippers".

Mr Ballmer is believed to have outbid two rival groups for the team, one of which was led by media mogul David Geffen and included talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

Mr Ballmer retired from Microsoft in February, but he still owns shares in the company.

A forced sale of the LA Clippers requires the approval of three-quarters of the 30 team owners in the NBA.

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