Magic Johnson group to buy Dodgers for record $2 billion
By Ronald Grover and Sue Zeidler
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A group spear-headed by former basketball great Earvin "Magic" Johnson agreed to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team for a record $2 billion, team owner Frank McCourt announced on Tuesday, capping a two-year drama that started with McCourt's divorce and wound its way through bankruptcy court.
The buyers under the deal, unveiled hours before the storied franchise was scheduled to hold an auction with three bidders, were led by the investment banking firm Guggenheim Partners. Mark R. Walter, chief executive officer of Guggenheim Capital, will be controlling partner of the ownership group.
As part of the deal, which if approved would lift the club out of bankruptcy, McCourt and certain affiliates of the buyers also plan to form a joint venture to acquire Dodger Stadium and the surrounding Chavez Ravine property for $150 million, the team said in a statement.
McCourt had separated the team from its real estate earlier in the process in a move opposed by some of the bidders, according to two people with knowledge of the bids.
Earlier on Tuesday, Major League Baseball owners had approved three bidders for an auction of the team that was expected to start Wednesday morning in New York, those sources also said.
The rival bidders approved by the league owners were a partnership that included hedge fund billionaire Steven Cohen and biotech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong and a second group headed by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke from the National Football League (NFL).
In addition to Johnson and Walter, the purchasing group includes one-time Hollywood studio executive Peter Guber, former Washington Nationals baseball team president Stan Kasten and Guggenheim Partners President Todd Boehly, the Dodgers said.
Johnson, 52, who ended his 12-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991 after he was diagnosed with HIV, was a minority owner of the National Basketball Association (NBA) team for several years after his retirement and built a business that owns movie theaters, health clubs and other properties. Continued...