Barry Jackson

Bush, Jeter working to finance Marlins sale

Presidential candidate Jeb Bush smiles for selfies with supportets at Chico's Cuban Restaurant in Hialeah on Monday Dec. 28, 2015 on his first leg of many campaign stops in Florida.
Presidential candidate Jeb Bush smiles for selfies with supportets at Chico's Cuban Restaurant in Hialeah on Monday Dec. 28, 2015 on his first leg of many campaign stops in Florida. EL NUEVO HERALD

Though Jeffrey Loria has agreed to sell the Marlins to a group led by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, it’s obviously contingent not only on MLB approval but also on Bush being able to fulfill his assurance that he will be able to raise the cash needed to cover the $1.3 billion price, which has been agreed to by both parties.

And according to two sources, Bush is still working to raise that money.

One source in contact with the Commissioner’s office said he was told that Bush continues to look for investors.

A prominent South Florida resident said he was approached by a Bush associate this week asking if he would invest in Bush’s ownership group.

According to someone briefed on the deal, Bush has assured the Marlins that he and Jeter will have the investors to finance the purchase. Both are investing an unknown amount of their own money, but not nearly enough on their own to reach the asking price.

The Marlins are under the impression that Bush and Jeter - who both have lots of deep-pocketed friends and associates - will be able to finance the deal, according to an MLB official. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be moving ahead with them.

A person approached by Bush about investing in the Marlins mentioned three wealthy South Florida-based Bush associates - health care mogul Mike Fernandez, tech entrepeneur Manny Medina and real estate developer Armando Codina - as people that he expected have been or would be approached by Bush about investing in the Marlins.

Fernandez told The Herald that he hasn’t been contacted and will not be investing in the Marlins. Medina declined to respond to a message inquiring about the issue. Codina was traveling and unavailable for comment.

There’s talk that a Goldman Sachs official is a potential investor, but Bush has declined to comment on anything regarding the Marlins sale.

The Bush/Jeter camp is expected to meet with high-ranking MLB officials in the coming days to discuss financing and investors in the group, according to the New York-based MLB source.

MLB has rules regarding financing of sales, with debt exceeding 40 percent generally not permitted for purchases of franchises. It’s expected that the Bush and Jeter group and their investors will have $850 million or more in equity to finance the sale.

Commissioner Rob Manfred told the Associated Press that no deal is in place to buy the Marlins, and that’s correct in the sense that nothing has been signed, Bush has a lot more work to do, and MLB needs to vet and approve Bush and his investors, before this sale is consummated. And that could take months.

Though Manfred says there remains multiple bidders for the Marlins, the Marlins have agreed to terms with Bush contigent on putting together financing. The Marlins would re-open discussions with the Tagg Romney group if the Bush/Jeter group fails to come up with the money to complete the deal, according to a source.

When asked about status of franchise sale, Loria smiled and replied "Read my lips" and pressed them closed.

Miami Herald staff writer Patricia Mazzei contibuted to this story.

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