ET Land Elephants looking for new owner
The ET Land Elephants are up for sale having told the Korean Basketball League (KBL) they are looking for a new owner and need help finding one.
The KBL now faces an unexpected challenge of finding bidders for the club. If there is no new owner by October when the season starts, the league would have to operate with nine teams, disrupting each side’s momentum as they would have more breaks between games.
The issue was addressed at a KBL board of directors meeting Monday. “At the meeting, the Elephants asked the KBL’s board of directors to proactively find companies that could take over the team,” KBL public relations director Kim Jeong-bong said. “The issue was addressed and discussed. We will cooperate to find the best solution.”
The news broke as ET Land is reportedly also on the block, raising concerns over the fate of the Incheon-based outfit. Although some companies have expressed an interest in acquiring the Elephants’ parent firm, none of them have shown any interest in taking over the basketball club.
“Lotte, SK Networks, and E-Mart, (a subsidiary of Shinsegae), are on the list of possible candidates for the M&A deal at this point,” an ET Land official said. “However, nothing is certain including the deal (concerning the basketball team).”
No matter what, it seems like the ET Land Elephants could become extinct, ending their nine-year participation in the league. After a good start in their inaugural 2003-2004 season they made the playoffs, but soon sank to the bottom, coming last in the next two campaigns. The Elephants made the playoffs for a second time last year with 38 wins and 16 losses in the regular season but lost to the KT Sonicboom in the first round.
The uncertain future of the Elephants also calls into question what will happen to the team’s players that include forward Moon Tae-jong and guard Shin Ki-sung. If the club cannot continue, the issue is anticipated to draw attention from not only the fans but also the other teams in the league.
The Women’s Korean Basketball League (WKBL) has run into a similar obstacle with the unexpected breakup of the Shinsegae Coolcat. With the Coolcat’s forced exit, the WKBL has just five teams remaining, which is expected to cause operational issues for this season.