Billionaire Investor Mansueto Buying 49% Ownership Stake In Fire
Joe Mansueto, the Founder & Chair of investment research firm Morningstar, is acquiring a 49% stake in the Fire. Andrew Hauptman, who purchased the MLS club in '07, will remain Chair, Controlling Shareholder and the club’s Governor on the MLS Board. Mansueto will become Vice Chair of the club and serve as an Alternate Governor. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available. Hauptman and his investment firm, Andell Inc., was represented in the transaction by Moelis & Company and Latham & Watkins. Mansueto Sports was represented by BDT & Company and Covington & Burling (Ian Thomas, Staff Writer). In Chicago, Tim Bannon notes Mansueto is the "first new Fire investor since Hauptman bought the team" in '07 from AEG. It has been a "busy couple of weeks for Mansueto, who recently completed" a $255M deal to "buy the Wrigley building" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 7/12). Also in Chicago, Danny Ecker noted Mansueto's deal "injects a powerhouse investor and well-connected Chicago businessman into a franchise that has labored to build its brand in the city in the 21 years since it was formed." Mansueto's investment is also a "vote of confidence for the team and the future of the MLS as the league expands into new markets and looks to cultivate its young fan base" (CHICAGOBUSINESS.com, 7/11).
TRICKY TIMING: In Chicago, Price & Sandalow note Mansueto is "getting involved with the Fire at a tricky time in their history." Before the season, the team "announced a deal" to put their games on ESPN+ instead of traditional broadcast TV. There is also the "looming specter" of Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts' ownership of a proposed USL franchise that "could compete with the Fire." Relations with the team's "most ardent fans" have also recently "soured over the banishment of the Sector Latino supporters group" (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/12).