SBD/September 2, 2011/Franchises

McCourt Offered $1.2B For Dodgers From Group With Ties To Chinese Gov't

McCourt reportedly has 21 days to consider the new offer
Frank McCourt reportedly has been offered $1.2B to sell the Dodgers to a group led by L.A. Marathon Founder Bill Burke and "indirectly financed by the government of China," according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. TIMES. The proposed sale price "would set a record" for an MLB team. But the bid "was received with skepticism within MLB, where executives wondered whether the proposal might be used by McCourt to stir negotiations with other potential buyers or to persuade a Bankruptcy Court judge to keep McCourt in charge of the team." A source said that the offer, disclosed in a letter to McCourt on Tuesday, was "unsolicited." It is "uncertain whether the embattled Dodgers owner is receptive to the offer." The bid was "presented on behalf of the Burke group by Signal Capital Management of New York." The letter indicated that the bid terms "call for an all-cash payment to buy the Dodgers, all real estate related to the team and the team's media rights." The letter also states that the offer is open for 21 days, with "the goal of closing a deal within 90 days, subject to the approvals of MLB and the Bankruptcy Court." The letter "did not specify who would finance the Burke bid, other than to say the money would come from 'certain state-owned investment institutions of the People's Republic of China' and unidentified American investors." One source said that McCourt has "spoken with at least two other groups about a sale of some portion of the Dodgers and could use the $1.2 billion as a minimum value in those discussions" (L.A. TIMES, 9/2). Sources said that this "is not the first billion-dollar bid" for the Dodgers. One source added that it is the latest "in a line of bids trying to capitalize on Frank McCourt's tenuous hold on the Dodgers" (, 9/1). 

RED FOR THE WHITE AND BLUE? In L.A., Vincent Bonsignore notes "only time will tell how serious all this actually is." Bonsignore: "What will Major League Baseball think of 'certain state-owned investment institutions of the People's Republic of China' owning one of its storied franchises? And how inclined will McCourt be to give up his silly fight to retain ownership? ... Chances are McCourt will pass, still intent to fight this thing till the bitter end" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 9/2). YAHOO SPORTS' David Brown writes, "Sounds like the Chinese are trying to make McCourt an offer he can't refuse." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig "wants McCourt out -- but would he take ol' Red China as a business partner as a means to an end?" Foreign investment "is rare, but isn't new in Major League Baseball; a group from Japan owns a stake in the Seattle Mariners." Still, the U.S.' "relationship with China is a little different." Brown added, "The men from China might not even be the issue here. Does McCourt even want to sell his beloved parking lots, along with the rest of the Dodgers? Considering how financially leveraged he's become -- with the club filing for bankruptcy and all -- selling the Dodgers for that much cash money might be the only way to get himself out of debt" (, 9/1). ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne wrote under the header, "Right Owner Matters, Not The Price Tag" (, 9/1).
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