Fortune magazine is profiling Guggenheim Partners in its March 18 print edition, and you can read the article online here. It’s worth the 20 minutes.
There’s quite a bit of background on Guggenheim and very little of it has to do with baseball. Mark Walter and Todd Boehly are not baseball men — they’re money men — and Fortune paints a broad picture of how they’ve gone about their business. The company (and by extension, the entity that owns the Dodgers) is connected to the original Guggenheim family and its eponymous museum in a real way; Fortune explains how Walter and Boehly expanded their empire with some shrewd purchases during the 2008 recession and afterward.
The report contains a couple of newsy nuggets, namely:
1. The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Guggenheim for its connection to Michael Milken. The philanthropist, prostate cancer activist and former “junk bond king” was exiled from Wall Street years ago. It’s doubtful that Milken is advising Walter on Don Mattingly‘s contract extension, but it’s something to keep an eye on nonetheless.
2. Guggenheim is balking at the asking price for Anschutz Entertainment Group, the entity that owns the Kings, part of the Lakers, and Staples Center, among a number of high-profile properties.
The latter point should come as good news to Dodger fans, if Fortune is painting an accurate picture of the Guggenheim empire. It’s quite an empire. Walter is sports-savvy enough to put the right people in decision-making positions (in the case of Dodgers president Stan Kasten) or keeping them there (general manager Ned Colletti). The concern is not that Walter and Boehly would be “stretched thin” by having less time to devote to the Dodgers.
Rather, the prospect of having a $170 billion outfit owning your team and no one else’s should appeal to fans. Has a higher compliment ever been paid to the Dodgers than Guggenheim’s $2 billion check? When Walter, Boehly, Magic Johnson and the other new owners held an introductory press conference, one incredulous reporter asked if there was going to be any money left over to spend on players (remember, this was a time when James Loney and Juan Uribe were the Dodgers’ first and third basemen, respectively). The answer was some form of “yes.”
Fortune suggests that the answer was “yes” because Guggenheim knew it had more than $3.5 billion coming this year in the form of a regional cable-rights deal. The final price was closer to the $7-8 billion range, courtesy of Time Warner. It’s harder to envision that kind of a financial windfall coming to the Kings or Lakers, whose long-term TV rights are already secure.
So, if the Kings and Lakers suddenly became Guggenheim property, there would be less money for Guggenheim to invest in the Dodgers. Granted, we’re talking about $8 to $10 billion less money for a $170 billion company, if Fortune‘s figures are accurate. But when Mark Walter finds any price tag “too much to stomach,” consider it a risky investment — one the Dodgers shouldn’t have to worry about.