Though Jeb Bush intends to be the “control person” if he and Derek Jeter can complete their pending acquisition of the Marlins, they won’t be personally funding anything close to the $1.3 billion sales price.
A source said this week that Bush and Jeter will be writing a check for only a fraction of the price. And Fox Business’ Charles Gasparino reported Thursday that Bush and Jeter are “expected to invest no more than $200 million combined.”
That means that Bush and Jeter will be paying less for the team than the contract value of one of the team’s players, Giancarlo Stanton, whose 13-year, $325 million deal will pay him between $25 million and $32 million every year between 2018 and 2028.
It also raises questions about whether the Bush group would be able to finance a large payroll.
As reported Wednesday here and elsewhere, Bush has been looking for investors to finance the sale.
“They don’t have the money yet,” said one high-ranking official involved in ownership of a National League team.
That official said it might be challenging to persuade people to invest if they don’t have control. But that person expressed optimism that Bush eventually will be able to come up with the money. And Bush has expressed confidence to associates that he will able to get this done, according to an associate and a potential investor contacted this week.
The Bush group has told the Marlins that financing the deal won’t be a problem, and that’s why the Marlins were comfortable in cutting off talks with other suitors and agreeing, in principle, to sell the team to the Bush/Jeter group for $1.3 billion, presuming they have the financing and are approved by baseball, according to an MLB official with direct knowledge.
MLB officials will meet with members of the Bush group next week to discuss financing.
An involved baseball official said if Bush can’t come up with the money, the Marlins would resume negotations with Tagg Romney, who reportedly bid $1.1 billion for the team.
“There are multiple bidders for the Marlins. We still have two groups involved in the process,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday at an event to commemorate the ground breaking for the Jackie Robinson Museum.
But an involved source reiterated that Bush has a tentative agreement in place with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, presuming Bush can raise the money, while also noting that “so much still has to happen” with regard to drawing up of contracts and solidifying financing and getting MLB approval.
Fox Business reports that Bush’s exclusive negotiating period extends at least into June and that their investment banker, former Morgan Stanley executive Gregg Flemming, has “cast a wide net for investors, including seeking possible candidates from South America.”
The deal is expected to include about $850 million in equity, according to a source. Baseball has restrictions limiting debt in a team acquisition to about 40 percent, though owners and the commissioner hold some discretionary power with that.
Bush, approached by TMZ at Reagan National Airport in Washington on Thursday, said of the sale: "It's not done yet."
He also praised Jeter as a "phenomenal guy” but declined to say more about the sale.