Report: Apollo Global Talking With LeBron's Company On RSN Bid
Apollo Global, one of several private-equity firms considering a bid for Disney's 22 RSNs, has "held early talks with LeBron James' media company, Uninterrupted, about bringing them on as a strategic partner," according to sources cited by Dylan Byers of NBC NEWS. Sources said that Apollo's talks with Uninterrupted have "focused on a strategic partnership deal that could see James contributing and advising on content for the networks." There has been "no talk of an ownership stake" for Uninterrupted. The 22 RSNs are "highly coveted properties at a time when sports and live events are the coin of the realm for linear television." The question is "what to do with those networks when the games aren't on." The talks with Uninterrupted "point to a possible solution" (BYERS MARKET, 11/8). Meanwhile, TMZ.com reported rappers LL Cool J and Ice Cube are "joining forces" to create a "powerful group looking to bid" on the 22 RSNs. Joining them in their bid is jewelry company Alex & Ani Founder Carolyn Rafaelian. Sources said that the group is also "in talks with other sports and cultural icons who are interested in participating in the bid (TMZ.com, 11/6).
LET THE BIDDING BEGIN: Disney today is beginning to accept bids for Fox-branded RSNs that it is selling, according to sources. These first rounds of bids will be submitted to Allen & Co., who is handling the sale along with JP Morgan Chase & Co., and meetings to discuss the opening bids will start as early as next week. Sources expect a deal to close in Q1 of next year and could fetch around $20B. Disney started sending the official bid book to prospective buyers four weeks ago. Up to 40 bidders have signed an NDA to look at the RSNs. Comcast, which owns eights RSNs, is not submitting a bid, sources said. Neither is Fox Sports, which has been described in some circles as a front-runner to buy back the RSNs. Fox Sports, which still is managing the RSNs through the sales process, still could be involved in the sales process down the road. A host of media companies, digital companies, individual teams and private equity groups have showed interest. Regulators have told Disney that it needs to divest the RSNs as a condition of its $71.3B acquisition of 21st Century Fox assets (John Ourand, Staff Writer).