Explaining Southern California's economy

Dodgers sale: The final bidding is shaping up as expected

Dodger Stadium Bleachers

pvsbond/Flickr (cc by-nc-nd)

The bleachers stand empty at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.

UPDATE: The Disney Family is also still in the running. So a total of five known and two unknown bidders.

The number of bidders for the bankrupt Los Angeles Dodgers has been narrowed to six, according the L.A. Times. Two are mysterious and unknown. But five aren't. They are:

Steven Cohen, a secretive Connecticut hedge fund billionaire who is probably the richest guy still in the running, with a personal net worth estimated at $8 billion

Tom Barrack of Colony Capital, a $30-billion L.A.-based private equity firm

Magic Johnson, in partnership with Stan Kasten

Jared Kushner, the boy-wonder son-in-law of Donald Trump who has so far distinguished himself by running a money-losing weekly newspaper, the New York Observer

•The Disney Family (haven't heard much about this bid, to be honest)

Looking at this group — which is of course now absent the Dream Team of developer Rick Caruso and veteran manager Joe Torre (they dropped out over a dispute with Dodgers owner Frank McCourt related to the Dodger Stadium parking lots) — you now have Magic Johnson as the sentimental favorite, Kusher as the wildcard, and Cohen and Barrack as the guys with the real money.

My speculative theory is that Cohen will do the deal without demanding that McCourt give up the parking lots. Given that he may be feeling pressure from the SEC to roll up his hedge fund after several of his protégés have been arrested, McCourt and his advisors may feel that he's the best bet to pay a high price without worrying about whether he gets the lots.

Barrack, on the other hand, I think would want the lots, given that Colony might not own the team for longer than five-to-seven years before selling all or part of it, as it's done before with sports teams.

I don't think Kusher has enough money to make it through the final auction, which would be conducted by McCourt.

Given that Cohen already tried to buy a chunk of the New York Mets, I think he looks like the most likely winning bidder. According to BusinessWeek's Roben Farzad, he may even be buying up a $20-million stake in the Mets at the same time in an effort to freak out McCourt and get himself on the inside track. Or maybe trying to position himself to try to buy the Mets — again. Business Insider adds that this could all just be a hedging strategy from a man who's known as "King Hedge" on Wall Street.

Frankly, there's just not enough news of maneuvering among the other bidders. And obviously Cohen is throwing money around. This is not somebody who plays to lose. The Mets' current owners have made a hash of things, with owners Saul Katz Fred Wilpon being mixed up with Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme. So Cohen may be upping his profile with Major League Baseball by helping keep the Mets afloat — something that gives him better standing as a decision about who will get the Dodgers looms.

In any case, it's something of a $20 million gift. If Cohen buys the Dodgers, he'll have to shed his stake in the Mets.

Follow Matthew DeBord and the DeBord Report on Twitter.

blog comments powered by Disqus