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Group seeking to bring Sacramento Kings to Seattle raises offer price

(Reuters) - Ahead of a meeting of NBA leaders this week to decide the fate of the Sacramento Kings, an investor group seeking to move the team to Seattle has raised its offer to $550 million, the hedge fund manager behind the offer said.

The revised bid comes in advance of a National Basketball Association's Board of Governors meeting to be held on Thursday and Friday, where a decision is expected on whether to have the team stay in Sacramento, California, or award it to Seattle by allowing the investor group to buy it from the Maloof family.

A rival investor group is seeking to buy the Kings and keep them in California's capital city.

Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen said in a statement on Friday at sonicsarena.com, the website of his investor group, that the offer price he presented was raised to $550 million, an increase of $25 million, "as a sign of our commitment to bring basketball back" to Seattle.

The group plans to rename the Kings the Seattle Supersonics, in a recast version of the NBA franchise that made Seattle home from 1967 until it moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and became the Thunder.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player, lined up investors to make a counter offer. Last month, Sacramento officials announced they had reached a $450 million deal with private developers to build an entertainment and sports complex they hope will keep the Kings from leaving for Seattle.

Separately, an investor group seeking to buy the Kings and keep them in Sacramento has been formed that includes Vivek Ranadive, founder and CEO of TIBCO Software.

That group committed to matching the offer of Hansen's band of investors, before the hedge fund manager increased the price, according to the Sacramento Bee, which cited a source close to the group seeking to keep the team in California.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Edith Honan and Eric Beech)

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