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Potential bidder Ben Navarro visits Carolina Panthers

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The Carolina Panthers' search for a new owner continues to progress toward a possible approval vote next month.

South Carolina businessman Ben Navarro is visiting with the team at Bank of America Stadium on Monday, sources informed of the Panthers' plans told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Navarro is the founder and CEO of Sherman Financial Group LLC., an investment and lending firm.

Navarro's visit comes after Alan Kestenbaum, a Canadian steel billionaire, met with the team last week, Rapoport reported. Billionaire hedge fund manager and Pittsburgh Steelers minority owner David Tepper is expected to formally visit the Panthers soon. Tepper would have to sell his stake in the Steelers before he could purchase the Panthers.

Speaking at last week's Annual League Meeting, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the Panthers' sale has received "unprecedented interest." The league is hoping to vote on the sale at the Spring League Meeting in Atlanta on May 21-23, Goodell said. Before it can become official, three-fourths of the league's 32 owners must approve the ownership change.

Panthers majority owner Jerry Richardson announced he was selling the team in December after the league took over an investigation looking into allegations of workplace misconduct against him. The Panthers officially went up for sale following the team's wild-card loss in January.

Richardson, the franchise founder, ceded day-to-day control of the team in December to Tina Becker, a 20-year employee of the team, who was promoted to chief operating officer. Goodell said last week that Richardson, 81, remains under NFL investigation.

The Buffalo Bills were the last team to be sold, fetching an NFL record $1.4 billion in 2014. The Panthers' sale could surpass that mark.

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