Marlins Sale Slows As Would-Be Investors Show Trepidation Over Club's Valuation
Despite a sale being rumored for over a month, Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria now "appears no closer to a deal," according to Matthew Futterman of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. This is "what happens when the leaders of the groups bidding can’t afford the pricetag on their own, even when" reported interested parties include Jeb Bush, Derek Jeter, Tagg Romney and Tom Glavine. It now appears possible the Marlins deal "could represent the moment when the super rich finally draw the line on what they are willing to pay for sports teams." Loria bought the team for $158M in '02, and "would like to sell it" for more than $1B. Sources said that each group has bid "just north" of $1.3B. However, "none of the principals in those groups has that kind of money, and raising additional cash has proved challenging." Sources said that wealthy investors have thus far been "wary of kicking in hundreds of millions of dollars to be minority partners, especially given what they see as an over-inflated valuation." One financier said, "Getting people to sign up at those numbers is hard, if not impossible.” Under typical valuation metrics, the Marlins "should sell" for somewhere between $800M-1B, and some bankers believe that the price will "drop to around that level, allowing more potential investors to pursue it." A source close to the Romney group said that it has "indications of interest from enough investors to finance the deal but has yet to finalize those into binding commitments." The Bush group is "continuing to seek out investors" through former Morgan Stanley Wealth Management President Gregory Fleming, and Jack Oliver, a GOP operative who "helped raise tens of millions of dollars for Bush’s presidential campaign" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/18).
CAPTAIN'S CHOICE: Yankees Managing General Partner Hal Steinbrenner yesterday lavished praise on Jeter and his bid to become an owner of the Marlins. “He’s a very intelligent, even-keeled guy, and he’d be a great asset to any organization,” Steinbrenner said. Asked if it would be odd to see the career Yankee be officially aligned with another team, Steinbrenner demurred. “We would just be happy for him. If this is a dream of his, being involved at a high level at a major league club, it doesn’t matter to me which league or for which team, quite frankly. We just wish him the best" (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer).