Boston Red Sox owner John Henry (shown above) is in talks to join with an investment vehicle for an $8 billion deal that would take his famed sports holdings public, according to people familiar with the matter.
The deal being discussed would merge Fenway Sports Group LLC, which also owns English soccer team Liverpool Football Club, with RedBall Acquisition Corp. RBAC 0.20% , the people said. RedBall is a so-called special purpose acquisition company launched by private-equity firm RedBird Capital Partners and Oakland Athletics executive Billy Beane.
RedBall, which raised $575 million in August to buy businesses in sports and sports-related media and data analytics, plans to raise an additional $1 billion to purchase a stake that will total less than 25% in Fenway Sports Group and value it at $8 billion including debt, some of the people said.
The talks are in the early innings and could still fall apart. Fenway’s investors had a meeting recently to discuss the potential transaction, one of the people said.
A publicly traded sports organization would be a relatively untested concept in the U.S. Liberty Media Corp. owns the Atlanta Braves, but the baseball team is a subsidiary of a much larger company. The NFL’s Green Bay Packers is owned by shareholders who mostly consist of fans.
Fenway Sports Group Holdings include:
- Boston Red Sox
- Fenway Park
- New England Sports Network
- Liverpool F.C.
- Salem Red Sox
- Roush Fenway Racing
- Fenway Sports Management