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Owner Sells Share Of Hornets

Spurned by Michael Jordan, George Shinn has turned to a Georgia businessman to buy a share of the Charlotte Hornets.

Team officials called a news conference for Thursday afternoon to announce that Shinn, who brought the Hornets into the NBA in 1988 for an expansion fee of $32.5 million, is selling a minority share of the team to Ray Wooldridge.

Team officials refused to confirm a report in Thursday's Charlotte Observer that Wooldridge is buying up to a 49 percent share of the Hornets for an estimated $80 million.

Wooldridge recently sold Space Master International Inc., an Atlanta-based modular office construction business, for about $270 million.

Shinn, the Hornets' sole owner, turned to Wooldridge after negotiating earlier this year with Jordan. The retired NBA superstar broke off talks in May after Shinn was unwilling to sell more than a minority share or give Jordan at least an equal say in key business decisions.

The sale comes at a time of mounting legal problems for Shinn. He has been accused of sexual misconduct by several former cheerleaders for the Hornets, and one woman has filed a civil suit against him. Shinn's wife recently divorced him, and he has moved from the Charlotte area to a home in Florida.

Shinn, who used to be a fixture in the stands at the Hornets' games, rarely showed up at the Charlotte Coliseum, where the team's attendance dipped to an all-time low last season.

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