Donald Trump remains in the running to buy the Buffalo Bills.
And so are NHL Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula, a person close to the process confirmed Thursday night to The Associated Press while speaking on the condition of anonymity because the sale is supposed to be private.
Michael Cohen, Trump's executive vice-president and special counsel, confirmed in an email to the AP that his boss was chosen to advance to the next round of bidding. Cohen said he was informed of the decision by Morgan Stanley, the banking firm overseeing the sale of the team for late owner Ralph Wilson's estate.
"Mr. Trump's significant wealth, name recognition and real estate knowledge makes him a viable option," Cohen said.
Trump is bidding on his own after electing against being joined by partners. He is prepared to make an all-cash offer.
Trump is proving to be serious in his efforts to buy the Bills, who are on the market after Wilson died in March. Trump was previously dismissed by critics as using the Bills' sale as a publicity stunt.
The Pegulas have been low-key throughout the sale process in regards to their interests in purchasing the Bills.
The Bills most recently were valued by Forbes at $870 million US but are expected to sell for at least $1 billion, partly because NFL teams rarely go on the market.
Morgan Stanley's selection of Trump and the Pegulas comes after prospective groups were asked to submit non-binding bids by Tuesday.
A Toronto group that includes rocker Jon Bon Jovi was expected to submit a bid. It's not known if that group has been selected to advance.
The deadline Tuesday was regarded as a soft one, meaning other interested parties can still submit bids until a prospective owner is identified. The time, however, is growing shorter for outside groups to become involved.
The next step is for groups who have been approved to advance is to meet with both Morgan Stanley and members of the estate to obtain the franchise's financial information. Bills President Russ Brandon also is expected to make a presentation to prospective bidders.
Once that is done in the coming weeks, groups will then be asked to submit formal bids. The bidding process is unsealed, meaning Wilson's estate will have the ability to ask groups to increase their bids.
Though no timetable has been established by Morgan Stanley, a prospective owner is could be identified by as early as Labor Day and presented to NFL owners for approval during league meetings in early October.