Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred says former New York Yankees all-star shortstop Derek Jeter and a group of investors poised to purchase the Miami Marlins have fully submitted the financial details of their bid, as well as commitments from various investors to fulfill a $1.2 billion proposal to buy the struggling baseball franchise, and will now undergo intense examination of the offer before it becomes official.
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Manfred made these remarks in an exclusive interview with FOX Business on the eve of the Major League Baseball owners meeting in Chicago, where the acquisition is expected to be a major focus of discussion.
Ever since news broke last Friday that Jeter and a group of investors have won the months-long bidding war for the Marlins, speculation has swirled whether Major League Baseball has received all the necessary details of the proposed purchase, and whether Jeter has firm commitments from various investors. On Monday, FOX Business citing an MLB official, reported that full details of the bid have yet to be submitted to the league. No one from the Jeter group disputed that account, and Jeter’s agent didn’t return calls for comment.
But Manfred on Tuesday evening told FOX Business that the Jeter investment group, which includes a large financial commitment from Wall Street money manager Bruce Sherman, has met all its disclosure obligations.
“Everything that we asked the Jeter group for has been submitted to us,” Manfred said.
Manfred said the information provided to MLB includes what he described as the “full disclosure of the financial commitment of the bid” and “financial statements from the people who made those commitments” to invest in the team.
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Manfred said the process from here involves a league examination of the Jeter proposal as well as interviews with the various people who will be investors. Baseball executives say the examination could take weeks.
Jeter himself is said to make just a relatively small investment in the team, around $25 million, but will serve as Marlins chief executive officer if the MLB approves the sale, according to a person involved in the Jeter bid. The so-called “control person,” or de-facto owner of the team putting up the most money, is said to be Sherman, a 68-year-old money manager, who also would have business responsibilities.
More than a dozen other investors are involved in the bid, including a chunk of money in the form of preferred stock from a firm affiliated with personal computer impresario Michael Dell.
“Any discussion that there is some dysfunction in the bid is simply inaccurate,” Manfred told FOX Business.
Sherman, Marlins President David Samson and a spokesman for Jeter did not return calls for comment.
MLB must approve any purchase of a baseball team, and the Marlin’s sale will receive a particularly close examination. The team is one of the league’s more mediocre franchises on the field, and it fares even worse financially. It is said to lose tens of millions of dollars a year, and has a heavy debt load on top of poor attendance. The inclusion of preferred stock in the Jeter bid is also likely to receive scrutiny because such a financing resembles debt, and the MLB is wary of the use of heavy levels of debt to purchase a team.
That said, the sale of the team—as first reported by FOX Business in April—has captivated both baseball and Wall Street executives who broker such deals because of the high-profile people involved in the bidding, which included the likes of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Tagg Romney, a hedge fund manager and son of 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and of course Jeter, a likely Hall of Famer, who has made no secret of his desire to run a major league team after he retired in 2014.
Jeter hired high-profile investment banker Gregory Fleming to cobble together a group of investors to meet a hefty asking price demanded by Samson and Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, who clearly benefitted from the scarcity value of teams on the market to receive offers of $1 billion or more.
Loria paid just $158 million for the team back in 2002.
In the event that Jeter and his group prevail and receive league approval, they would beat out a local legend for the rights to buy the Marlins: Jorge Mas, a billionaire, South Florida businessman and a fixture in the local Cuban-American community. His father, Cuban exile Jorge Mas Canosa led a prominent opposition group to Cuban dictator Fidel Castro; Mas’s ties to the local business community and deep pockets appeared to make him the favorite to buy the team until recently.
Mas was willing to pay a bit more than $1 billion for the team, and some baseball executives say he still might join the Jeter group.