Robert L. Johnson Adds The Astri Group To Charlotte Bobcats Ownership Team

The Astri Group, an investment company in Miami, Florida, has joined the ownership group of Bobcats Basketball Holdings, LLC, which owns and operates the Charlotte Bobcats of the National Basketball Association, the Charlotte Sting of the Women’s National Basketball Association and C-SET (Carolinas Sports Entertainment Television), it was announced today by majority owner Robert L. Johnson.

The Astri Group, a private equity investment firm that specializes in the health care industry, is owned by prominent Miami businessmen Carlos and Jorge de Cespedes. The brothers also own the $600 million Pharmed Group, the largest, minority-owned distributor of health care products in the United States.

“Carlos and Jorge provide the perfect complement to our existing group of local investors and I look forward to their becoming actively engaged in the Charlotte community,” said Johnson. “Both Carlos and Jorge are committed to becoming dynamic members of our broad-based ownership team. And as highly-regarded members of Miami’s Hispanic community, they give further emphasis to the Bobcats investor group as a model for business diversity within the sports and entertainment industry.”

Serving as the lead contacts with the Bobcats Basketball Holdings, LLC ownership group will be Jorge de Cespedes and Adam Ross, vice president of The Astri Group.

"We are thrilled to be part of such a wonderful organization and to become a member of the NBA family,” said Jorge de Cespedes. “When we were presented with this exceptional opportunity, there was no doubt in our minds that we wanted to be part of Bob Johnson’s ownership group in Charlotte. And though becoming an owner of an NBA franchise was one of my childhood dreams, it is really the long-term vision that Bob has for the franchise and for how it will positively engage the Charlotte community that drove our decision to become involved.”

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Astri Group joins a varied list of local Charlotte-area minority investors in Bobcats Basketball Holdings, LLC, including Bank of America Corporation and Wachovia Corporation, two of the nation’s leading financial institutions and both headquartered in Charlotte; Skipper Beck, partner in Beck Automotive Group; North Carolina native and former NBA player and executive M. L. Carr; Howard Levine, Chairman & CEO of Family Dollar Stores; Hugh McColl, Jr., chairman of McColl Partners and former CEO of Bank of America; Felix Sabates, owner of NASCAR Winston Cup racing teams and the Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey club, and chairman of Trinity Yachts, the largest yacht builder in America; Nelson Schwab III, co-founder of Carousel Capital; Anderson Warlick, CEO of leading textile manufacturer Parkdale Mills; Ed Weisiger, Jr., President/CEO of Carolina Tractor; and the Professional Sports Investment Group led by managing partners Rev. Claude Alexander of University Park Baptist Church and Dr. Spurgeon Webber III, owner of a prominent local dental practice.