Two years ago, a consortium of investors paid an unreal $2.15 billion — all cash — to acquire the Los Angeles Dodgers. While NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson was the public face of the deal, Guggenheim Partners carried the real financial heft — the price was the highest ever paid for a sports team (the next highest was Manchester United, at a third of the price).
That same insurance firm is now reportedly interested in buying some, or all, of an NBA team: SB Nation reported yesterday that Guggenheim and Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov are engaged in “ongoing discussions” over a “combination of assets” — specifically, the team and Barclays Center. According to the story, there was a meeting last week in Moscow between Prokhorov, Barclays developer Bruce Ratner, and Guggenheim’s president, Todd Boehly.
The deal suggests just how steeply the values of Prokhorov’s and Ratner’s respective properties have appreciated in the last few years. The jet-skiing, yacht-losing Russian billionaire paid around $200 million for 80 percent of the Nets in 2010. He also owns 45 percent of the stadium, compared to Ratner’s 20 percent. Recent reports value the Nets at between $1.2 and $1.7 billion, while Barclays is worth roughly $1.1 billion. If Prokhorov cashes out — a scenario Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix reports is very likely — he could see a ten-figure profit. (Then again, he’s paid out nearly $300 million in salaries and luxury taxes the past two seasons, and is looking at a $130 million tab for this upcoming season.)
If the parties all follow through, this new entity created by Guggenheim, which includes the Dodgers, Dodgers Stadium, and a stake in Dick Clark Productions, could be valued around $8 billion. At the moment, neither Guggenheim, Prokhorov, nor Ratner have confirmed reports of these discussions.