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Red Sox owner looks to take Fenway Sports public via SPAC: WSJ

Yahoo Finance’s Dan Roberts joins Akiko Fujita to discuss reports that Red Sox owner John Henry is in talks to take the team public by merging it with RedBird Capital’s RedBall SPAC.

Video Transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: The owner of the Boston Red Sox may be looking to play ball in the public markets. “The Wall Street Journal” reporting Sox owner John Henry is in talks with RedBall Acquisition to take the Fenway Sports Group public through, what else, a SPAC. Dan Roberts is here to break that down for us. And Dan, we were talking about this in the break. There’s a lot of teams that are owned by companies that are public, but this would be the new avenue for a sports team.

DAN ROBERTS: Yeah, it would be new, and I would say there aren’t that many teams that are publicly owned. But this would be truly publicly owned. Now let’s make sure we mention, John Henry’s Fenway Sports Management is not just the Red Sox, but also owns Liverpool, the soccer team abroad. It owns Roush Fenway Racing, which is a NASCAR team. It has a number of holdings. Then also, interestingly for our media watching, is NESN, the network. So a lot of valuable assets there.

The whole portfolio would become public if John Henry merges his business, his portfolio, with this already public SPAC, which is RedBall. RedBall itself just went public last month and was a SPAC by the people at Red Bird Capital. Now Red Bird has been making a lot of moves already in the news just recently, because that is the group that teamed up with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and his business partner, Danny Garcia, to buy back the XFL. And they’re relaunching the XFL. So they’ve been in the news a lot recently.

And by the way, Billy Beane, the former A’s manager, is involved with Red Bird, and thus also, RedBall. So lot of terms to keep in mind there. But the idea being that Fenway Sports Group would become public if this happens. Now the people at RedBall had already said when they did the SPAC last month that they aim to raise another billion dollars in order to make a big acquisition. So the folks at Red Bird would likely only get a stake in the Fenway business if this deal actually goes through, probably a 25% stake.

But you got to wonder, what does it value the team at, what does it value the whole portfolio at, and then once it’s public, how would that trade? And it would be interesting to see investors voting with their dollars on the value of a baseball franchise at a time when frankly, MLB, not in the greatest place really.

AKIKO FUJITA: Yeah, it’ll be interesting to see also how investors value these assets for the company.

DAN ROBERTS: Yeah, absolutely, I mean, there are numbers being thrown around like $8 billion for the whole portfolio. I’m not sure how people are arriving at those figures. It’s funny, whatever though those Forbes valuations come out of various franchises, A, they’re always so roughly ball-parked. And then B, I always caveat, whenever there’s a big team sale, I always tell people and say on our shows, that almost every team ends up selling A, of course, for more than it sold the last time.

But then B, for higher than its most recent valuation. I mean, owning one of the sports franchises in the big four leagues is like one of the last remaining investments that’s almost sure to get more valuable every year. I mean, Derek Jeter and that group could probably resell the Marlins next year for more than they paid.

AKIKO FUJITA: OK, we’ll be watching closely. Dan Roberts, thanks so much.

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