- Dec 4, 2009
Boston Red Sox owner John Henry is in talks to join with an investment vehicle for an $8 billion deal that would take his famed sports holdings public, according to people familiar with the matter.
The deal being discussed would merge Fenway Sports Group LLC, which also owns English soccer team Liverpool Football Club, withRedBall Acquisition Corp. , the people said. RedBall is a so-called special purpose acquisition company launched by private-equity firm RedBird Capital Partners and Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane.
RedBall, which raised $575 million in August to buy businesses in sports and sports-related media and data analytics, plans to raise an additional $1 billion to purchase a stake that will total less than 25% in Fenway Sports Group and value it at $8 billion including debt, some of the people said.
The talks are in the early innings and could still fall apart. Fenway’s investors had a meeting recently to discuss the potential transaction, one of the people said.
s a public company, Fenway could look to buy up more clubs in Europe, where a number have been on the block, according to a person familiar with the matter.
A publicly traded sports organization would be a relatively untested concept in the U.S. Liberty Media Corp. owns the Atlanta Braves, but the baseball team is a subsidiary of a much larger company. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers is owned by shareholders who mostly consist of fans.
New York-based RedBird, run by former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker Gerry Cardinale, made its first foray into European soccer in July by acquiring a majority stake in Toulouse FC, a club in France’s second tier. Immediately after the takeover, it installed a team president, Damien Comolli, who had previously worked at Liverpool and is close to Mr. Beane, who is best known for his analytics-driven approach as depicted in the book and movie, “Moneyball.”
RedBall’s board includes former Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore, during whose 20 years in charge English soccer turned into a global export and a television-rights cash cow. Premier League matches air in more than 190 countries every weekend of its 10-month season.
Because of the league’s reach, it’s not uncommon for top clubs to be valued in the billions of dollars on the rare occasions they hit the market. Manchester City set a new bar in 2019 after private-equity firm Silver Lake purchased a $500 million stake that valued the club’s sprawling umbrella group at $4.8 billion.
The deal being discussed would merge Fenway Sports Group, which also owns English soccer team Liverpool Football Club, with RedBall Acquisition.