Baseball: Magic Johnson set to buy Dodgers for record $2bn

 

A group spear-headed by former basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson agreed to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team for a record $2bn, team owner Frank McCourt announced yesterday, capping a two-year drama that started with McCourt's divorce and wound its way through bankruptcy court.

The buyers under the deal, unveiled hours before the storied franchise was scheduled to hold an auction with three bidders, were led by the investment banking firm Guggenheim Partners. Mark R. Walter, chief executive officer of Guggenheim Capital, will be controlling partner of the ownership group.

As part of the deal, which if approved would lift the club out of bankruptcy, McCourt and certain affiliates of the buyers also plan to form a joint venture to acquire Dodger Stadium and the surrounding Chavez Ravine property for $150 million, the team said in a statement.

McCourt had separated the team from its real estate earlier in the process in a move opposed by some of the bidders, according to two people with knowledge of the bids.

Earlier on Tuesday, Major League Baseball owners had approved three bidders for an auction of the team that was expected to start Wednesday morning in New York, those sources also said.

The rival bidders approved by the league owners were a partnership that included hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen and biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and a second group headed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke from the National Football League (NFL).

In addition to Johnson and Walter, the purchasing group includes one-time Hollywood studio executive Peter Guber, former Washington Nationals baseball team president Stan Kasten and Guggenheim Partners President Todd Boehly, the Dodgers said.

Johnson, 52, who ended his 12-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991 after he was diagnosed with HIV, was a minority owner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) team for several years after his retirement and built a business that owns movie theaters, health clubs and other properties.

Johnson was among the earliest bidders for the Dodgers after McCourt put the team up for sale in November in an agreement with Major League Baseball. The league had asked the bankruptcy court to order the sale, accusing McCourt of violating its rules by taking team funds for personal use.

The Dodgers had landed in bankruptcy court in June 2011, more than a year after McCourt and his wife, Jamie, separated. The two argued in court over ownership of the team, and reached a divorce settlement in which Jamie McCourt was promised a $130 million payment to end her ownership claim.

"I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section of our wonderful community of Los Angeles," Johnson said in a statement.

The $2 billion price tag would mark the largest sum ever spent for a major league U.S. sport franchise, surpassing the previous record, $1.1 billion, paid by real estate developer Steven Ross in 2009 to acquire the NFL's Miami Dolphins. The highest price previously paid for a Major League Baseball club was $845 million, which the Ricketts family spent in 2009 to buy the Chicago Cubs.

The Dodgers deal could still be challenged, said sports consultant Marc Ganis, president of Chicago-based Sportscorp Ltd.

"This was a pre-emptive bid to keep out bidders who may be better capitalized," Ganis told Reuters. "That means the auction may have been breached, and I wouldn't be surprised to see one or more bidders object."

Before the deal was announced, the prospective sale price had ranged from $1.2 billion to $1.6 billion, according to sources with knowledge of the bids. Future television rights for the club have been estimated to be worth as much as $3 billion and are considered the team's most valuable asset.

McCourt had been expected to choose from among three prospective buyers at auction, with the winning bid seen as likely to end up around $1.5 billion, the two sources with knowledge of the bidding said on Monday.

"This agreement with Guggenheim reflects both the strength and future potential of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and assures that the Dodgers will have new ownership with deep local roots, which bodes well for the Dodgers, its fans and the Los Angeles community," McCourt said.

News Corp's Fox sports unit and Time Warner Cable also were headed toward what could be a multibillion-dollar showdown next year over the rights to telecast the franchise's games.

Reuters

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

Commercial Litigation Associate

Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little