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Warriors to be sold in next 24 hours for cut-price rate

David Skipwith, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wednesday, 2 May 2018, 12:18PM
The team has reportedly been brought for just $18 million. (Photo / Photosport)
The team has reportedly been brought for just $18 million. (Photo / Photosport)

The new owners of the Warriors are expected to be announced in the next 24 hours.

The Herald understands the Carlaw Park Heritage Trust and Autex Industries have purchased the Auckland-based NRL club from long-time owner Eric Watson for a cut-price rate of less than $18 million.

Watson was reportedly seeking $24 million for the club from a rival Tongan-US consortium but it's believed he agreed to sell to the trust, which is effectively an arm of the Auckland Rugby League, and Autex, as they made the highest cash offer.

It is understood negotiations initially stalled after Watson left the Carlaw Park Heritage Trust's early offer of $15 million hanging, before Autex stumped up an additional million to help their bid progress, before the two partners and Watson settled on the final figure.

The deal has now gone unconditional after the NRL this week approved the sale, with the last details around financial settlement expected to be finalised today.

The sale is expected to be formally announced and the Carlaw Park Heritage Trust and Autex Industries unveiled as joint owners of the Warriors at a press conference either later today or tomorrow morning.

Warriors players and club staff and expected to be briefed by the new management before the news is confirmed publicly, ahead of Saturday's home game against Wests Tigers at Mt Smart Stadium.

News of the deal was first reported by the Herald on Sunday, and on Monday it was revealed Autex will take a 33 per cent ownership stake in the partnership to run the Penrose-based franchise with the Carlaw Park Heritage Trust.

The Herald can now reveal the new owners are working to establish a seven-person board consisting of four members from the Carlaw Park Heritage Trust, two members from the Autex, and one independent appointee.

It's expected ARL chair Cameron McGregor, who is also chair of the Carlaw Park Heritage Trust, will fill the same role on the new board in replacing current Warriors executive chair Jim Doyle.

Doyle, former Warriors managing director, is selling his 10 per cent share in the club and will stand down from his role as executive chair.

It's also anticipated that Autex Industries owner Mark Robinson and company managing director Robert Croot will fill the board positions allocated to the Avondale-based manufacturing group.

At this stage it remains unclear who the independent board member will be.

The process of confirming the make-up of the board won't be rushed and a smaller interim board, directed by McGregor and Croot, may be formed to handle matters in the interim.

Warriors coach Stephen Kearney and several players, including former captain Simon Mannering, star halfback Shaun Johnson and senior forward Adam Blair, are due to talk to reporters today at the team's weekly media session this afternoon.

The side currently sits in third spot on the premiership ladder level on 12 competition points with the second-placed Panthers.

They will look to bounce back from last week's 50-10 Anzac Day thrashing at the hands of Melbourne, against Wests Tigers who find themselves in fifth spot after losing 24-22 to Parramatta on Sunday.

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