By Eric Kelsey
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling on Monday met with former Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer to discuss a possible settlement over Sterling’s opposition to the $2 billion sale of the basketball team, a source close to the case said.
Ballmer met with Sterling for 90 minutes at the 80-year-old real estate billionaire’ s request, but the talks did not resolve Sterling’s opposition to the deal brokered by his estranged wife, the source said.
Sterling and his wife, Shelly Sterling, are locked in a court battle over whether Sterling has legal standing to block the NBA-record sale to Ballmer.
Ballmer’s attorney Adam Streisand and Shelly Sterling’s attorney Pierce O’Donnell also attended the meeting, the source said.
Messages left with representatives for Sterling seeking comment were not immediately returned.
The Sterlings’ probate trial has entered its final phase and Donald Sterling’s lawyers, who were scheduled to present their case on Monday, called off the day’s hearing after less than an hour.
Sterling’s case was dealt a significant blow last week when Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Levanas refused to throw out testimony by physicians who said he has early Alzheimer’s disease and cannot handle his business affairs.
The trial picks up on Tuesday with testimony from current Clippers interim CEO Richard Parsons, the former head of Time Warner Inc.
Shelly Sterling, 79, has told the court she sold the franchise at her husband’s behest after the league banned him for life and threatened to seize the team for taped racist remarks he made in private that were publicized.
The remarks disparaging black people caused sponsors to cut ties with the team that Sterling has owned for 33 years. Players considered a boycott amid general public outrage.
Sterling contends that his wife and her lawyers misled him into submitting to the medical examinations that handed her control of the franchise.
Levanas will decide whether Shelly Sterling complied with the terms of the family trust that owns the Clippers in ousting her husband and if the sale can go forward after Sterling revoked the trust.
Sterling, who was combative and shouted during testimony in the trial, said the Clippers are worth more than $2 billion and that he would never sell the team.
The chief financial officer and controller of Sterling’s Beverly Hills Properties company testified on Monday that Sterling would have to sell some of his $2.5 billion in real estate assets to cover loan obligations.
Darren Schield said banks could now call Sterling’s $480 million in liabilities since he revoked the trust that owns his holdings.
“I told him this revocation would open up Pandora’s Box and there would be severe consequences for us,” Schield told the court, adding that Sterling’s poor public image would also make it too difficult to raise enough cash by issuing stock.
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)