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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The parent company of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C. has ended talks to sell a minority ownership stake to RedBall Acquisition, a SPAC formed by longtime baseball executive Billy Beane and investor Gerry Cardinale, Axios has learned from multiple sources. An alternative investment, structured more like private equity, remains possible.

Why it matters: Red Sox fans won't be able to buy stock in the team any time soon.

Background: Deal talks first leaked last October, with RedBall seeking to acquire between a 20-25% stake of Fenway Sports Group at around an $8 billion valuation.

  • It would have been funded by $575 million that RedBall raised in its IPO, plus up to $950 million Redball sought to raise from Cardinale's private equity firm (RedBird Capital Partners) and outside investors.
  • Neither FSG nor RedBall ever confirmed their talks, nor would regulatory restrictions have allowed them to do so.

What happened: RedBall couldn't raise enough outside capital at the asking price, at least via the SPAC structure.

  • Forbes last year estimated that the Red Sox were valued at $3.3 billion, compared to the $380 million that its ownership group paid back in 2002. That total does not include Liverpool or some of Fenway Sports Group's other assets, which include a NASCAR team and regional sports network that airs Red Sox and Boston Bruins games.

What happens now: Cardinale and FSG still may try to negotiate a private investment deal, but not one that would immediately result in a public stock listing.

  • RedBall will continue to seek out an acquisition target, possibly in pro soccer or gaming.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jan 25, 2021 - Economy & Business

Merger Monday has been overrun by SPACs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Five companies this morning announced plans to go public via reverse mergers with SPACs, at an aggregate market value of more than $15 billion. And there might be even more by the time you read this.

The bottom line: SPAC merger activity hasn't peaked. If anything, it's just getting started.

Texas abortion law remains in effect after appeals court ruling

Pro- and anti-abortion protesters outside the Supreme Court as arguments begin about the Texas abortion law on Capitol Hill in November. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A U.S. appeals court transferred a challenge to Texas' law banning most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy to the state supreme court in a 2-1 vote on Monday evening.

Why it matters: The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision means the country's most restrictive abortion law can remain in place for the time being.

2 hours ago - World

At least 2 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least two people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Monday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. A New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told Axios over the phone that two people had been confirmed to have died in the disaster.

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