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Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Going Public Via Billy Beane SPAC: WSJ

Chris Katje
·3 mins read

A sports SPAC is set to take Fenway Sports Group public in a deal valuing the company at $8 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

About Fenway Sports Group: Fenway Sports Group is the owner of MLB’s Boston Red Sox and Liverpool Football Club of the English Premier League.

Fenway Sports Group bought the Red Sox in 2002 and has seen the team win four World Series titles since 2004.

Liverpool won the last season of the English Premier League and were the 2019 UEFA Champions League winners.

Fenway Sports Group owns 80% of the New England Sports Network, a regional sports channel that airs Red Sox games.

Forbes ranks the Boston Red Sox as the third most valuable baseball team with a valuation of $3.3 billion, including a $637 million value for Fenway Park. Liverpool is ranked as the eighth most valuable soccer club by Forbes with a valuation of $2.2 billion.

About RedBall Acquisition: In August, RedBall Acquisition Corp (NYSE: RBAC) raised $575 million with a plan to buy a sports team or sports media company. The company is seeking to raise another $1 billion to purchase a stake of less than 25% in Fenway Sports Group.

Rise in Sports Team Valuations: The New York Mets were just bought for $2.5 billion, an American sports team record. Forbes values the Mets at $2.4 billion.

Forbes estimates that MLB teams have seen their valuations rise by 4x over the last 10 years compared to a 2.5x return of the S&P 500.

Part of the rise in valuation comes from the increased television rights values in new deals. Fox Corp. (NYSE: FOXA) kicks off a new deal in 2022 that will increase the amount paid to MLB by 50%, which could boost the value of teams further. 

Manchester City sold a partial stake in 2019 that valued the team at $4.8 billion. Forbes values the club at $2.7 billion. 

Italian soccer club AS Roma was sold for $700 million compared to a Forbes estimate of $622 million.

Other Public Sports Teams: There are not a lot of publicly traded sports teams on exchanges in the United States.

Madison Square Garden Sports Corp (NYSE: MSGS) owns the NBA’s New York Knicks and the NHL’s New York Rangers along with other sports assets.

The Liberty Braves Group (NASDAQ: BATRA) is the majority owner of MLB’s Atlanta Braves. The company has an enterprise valuation of $1.4 billion compared to Forbes valuation of $1.8 billion.

English Premier League team Manchester United (NYSE: MANU) is public on the NYSE. The company has an enterprise value of $3 billion. Forbes values the team at $3.9 billion. Shares are down 27% in 2020 and could see a pop next week with an implied increase to Liverpool’s valuation.

Price Action: Shares of RedBall Acquisition jumped 8% in after-hours trading Friday to $10.88. Shares have traded between $9.90 and $10.72 since going public.

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