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LeBron James and private equity firm to buy into Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox majority owner John Henry has agreed to sell a roughly 11% stake in the team's parent company to RedBird Capital Partners, Axios has confirmed with a source close to the situation. Separately, LeBron James has acquired around a 1% stake in the club.

Why it matters: It's a massive return on investment for Henry, who in 2001 paid what was then a record $700 million for the Red Sox. This deal values its parent company, Fenway Sports Group, at around $7.3 billion.

Why it matters to Red Sox fans: Because there's a certain amount of sacrilege at play.

  • RedBird is led by Gerry Cardinale, who made his name as the Goldman Sachs banker who helped the New York Yankees create the country's largest regional sports network (YES Network).
  • James grew up as a Yankees fan, and is known to sport the team's iconic cap. He already had a small ownership stake in soccer club Liverpool FC, which is part of the Fenway Sports Group portfolio. It's unclear if he's putting new money into the Red Sox, or just transferring his Liverpool stake into the bigger company.

Background: RedBird originally was in talks to buy between 2o-25% of Fenway Sports Group via a SPAC, which included the involvement of longtime baseball exec Billy Beane. But that deal didn't come together, due to difficulties in obtaining outside financing at a valuation asking price of around $8 billion.

  • The LeBron James investment was first reported by The Boston Globe.
  • RedBird's investment requires Major League Baseball approval.

RedBird declined comment, while a representative for James hasn't yet responded.

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