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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.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC panel recommends Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up

Photo: Marco Bello/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A key panel at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people 65 years old and older, as well as those at high risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: The approval is the near-final step in making the booster shots available to tens of millions of Americans, and comes a day after the FDA approved Pfizer boosters for the two groups. CDC director Rochelle Walensky is expected to announce her recommendation soon.

DHS temporarily suspends use of horse patrol in Del Rio

U.S. Border Patrol agents watch as Haitian immigrant families cross the Rio Grande from Mexico into Del Rio, Texas on Sept. 23, 2021. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday temporarily suspended the use of horse patrol in Del Rio, Texas a DHS spokesperson confirmed.

Why it matters: The suspension comes after images showing border patrol agents whipping at and charging their horses at migrants surfaced earlier in the week, prompting widespread criticism of the Biden administration's handling of the crisis at the border.

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