'Definitive agreement' signed to sell Panthers to hedge fund manager David Tepper

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The agreement has been signed to sell the Carolina Panthers to Florida hedge fund manager David Tepper, the team announced Wednesday.

"Bringing the Panthers and the NFL to the Carolinas in 1993 was enormously fulfilling for Rosalind and me and all of our partners," founder Jerry Richardson, said.

Tepper, the founder and president of global hedge fund Appaloosa Management, L.P. and a well-known philanthropist, has also been a minority owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2009.

The Steelers tweeted a statement from Steelers President Art Rooney II following the announcement, saying he was sorry Tepper would be leaving them but is excited Tepper is becoming the Panthers' new owner.

"I wish David all the best as he completes the process to finalize the transaction and assumes the leadership of the Panthers' organization," the tweet read.

People familiar with the situation told the AP Tuesday that Tepper agreed to buy the Carolina Panthers from Richardson for $2.2 billion.

"We are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support over the last 25 years," Richardson said. "You have taken the Panthers into your hearts and made them part of this warm and supportive community. We want to thank all of our past and present players, coaches and staff for their hard work in making the Panthers a great success both on the field and in the community. The personal relationships we have enjoyed have been very meaningful to us."

A South Carolina businessman released a statement Tuesday wishing the Panthers "success" moving forward.

"My family and I are grateful to have had the opportunity to be included as a potential buyer of one of the premier assets in all of the Carolinas – the Panthers football team," Ben Navarro said in a statement sent to WBTV. "It would have been a privilege to become the stewards of this iconic franchise to ensure its home remains in the Carolinas where it belongs, to establish a new era of leadership and excellence on and off the field, and to leverage the team's NFL platform to further our quest to help all children gain access to a great education."

Tepper said, "I am thrilled to have been selected to be the next owner of the Carolina Panthers. I have learned a great deal about the community and the team over the past several months and look forward to becoming part of the Carolinas."

PREVIOUS: 9 questions I want presumptive new Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper to answer

The Charlotte Observer reported that Tepper is the richest of the known bidders who sought to buy the Panthers and reportedly has a net worth of $11 billion.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles shared her excitement about the new owner.

"We're really excited that a new owner has been identified," Lyles told reporters. " I think that once the NFL has made its decision. We get to talk to the owner."

"I want to thank Jerry Richardson and the other Panthers partners for all they have done to establish and develop the NFL in the Carolinas," Tepper said. "It has been a remarkable 25-year journey and I promise to build upon the Panthers' success on the field and in the community."

Subject to NFL approval, the transaction is expected to close in July 2018.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.