A group of South Korean investors are reportedly in talks to purchase roughly 20 percent of the Dodgers, per reports from Korea Joongang Daily and Naver Sports. It is unclear exactly how far along these negotiations have progressed, though any sale would have to be approved by MLB.
The Dodgers were purchased in May 2012 for $2.15 billion, a record for a professional sports franchise. The ownership group, Guggenheim Baseball Management LLC, includes Mark Walter as chairman controlling partner, Stan Kasten as president and CEO, along with partners Magic Johnson, Peter Guber, Todd Boehly and Bobby Patton.
The reports estimate that the group so far has raised $370 million (400 billion won), which is less than one-fifth of the purchase price three years ago.
"The consortium [of Korean investors] was formed when one of the five joint owners tried to sell his shares," a financial investment official told Kang Byong-Chol of the Korea Joongang Daily. "The deal is expected to be worth about 400 billion won, which is 20 percent of the total cost three years ago, and is set to be concluded before the season starts in April."
The biggest question in all of this is finding out exactly which partner wanted to cash out, and without knowing the complete breakdown and distribution of shares that makes this a difficult exercise.
Both reports also mention Walter, Johnson, Guber, Boehly and Patton as each owning roughly 20 percent of the team, though that is not the case.
We know, for instance, that Johnson paid $50 million to be a part of the ownership group, and his share is far less than 20 percent. The exact breakdown is unknown, but Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times quoted Kasten, Johnson and others in May 2012 just after the sale was completed:
"I’m not going to get into that because Mark has 100 percent of the control of the votes, to the extent that there are votes," Kasten said. "That’s all you really need to know. Think of Mark, and think of 100 percent, and put them together. How’s that?"
Uh, completely unfulfilling. Somewhere the puck stops, or at least the bill. Only Magic was willing to discuss what percentage of the team he purchased, even if he was less than precise.
"It will pencil out about 3, 4 percent. It doesn’t really matter," Magic said.
UPDATE: Bill Shaikin of the LA Times in December 2012 broke down the $2 billion investment (the other $150 million went into a joint venture with former owner Frank McCourt regarding the Dodger Stadium parking lots):
$100 million: Guggenheim Partners Chief Executive Mark Walter
$100 million: Guggenheim Partners President Todd Boehly
$100 million: Texas energy investor Bobby Patton
$50 million: Magic Johnson
$25 million: Mandalay Entertainment Group Chairman Peter Guber
$412 million: Debt assumption
$1.213 billion: Guggenheim Partners insurance companies controlled by Walter
The Dodgers were the first major league team to broadcast a game in the United States in Korean, in 1990, and have long been a popular team in South Korea. In 1994, Chan Ho Park became the first South Korean-born player in major league history when he debuted with the Dodgers.
In 2014, thanks in large part of the popularity of South Korean star Hyun-jin Ryu, the Dodgers broadcast 70 games on Radio Korea domestically, and had the final 157 games of the season available on television in Korean as a secondary audio option.