Report: DC United owner Erick Thohir to sell stake in club

Jason Levien and Patrick Soon-Siong close to deal that values MLS side at US$500m.

Report: DC United owner Erick Thohir to sell stake in club

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Erick Thohir has reportedly agreed to sell his majority stake in Major League Soccer’s (MLS) DC United.

According to Bloomberg, billionaire Patrick Soon-Siong and Jason Levien, chief executive of DC United, are understood to be close to a deal to buy Thohir’s stake in an agreement that would value the club at a league-record US$500 million.

The deal is expected to be completed by the end of April, and would make Soon-Shiong the biggest stakeholder in the MLS side. Levien, who would also increase his stake from 22 per cent, will remain managing general partner and chief executive.

Soon-Shiong, who has a net worth of US$8.2 billion, recently bought newspapers the Los Angeles Times and the San Diego Tribune from Tronc Inc for $500 million. He also owns a share of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Thohir has been United’s general partner since July 2012 and owns 78 per cent of the team’s operating rights, but has been seeking to divest for more than a year.

In a written statement, United said they had been ‘evaluating different strategic opportunities to add to our ownership’ and did not want to comment ‘on any specific potential investment’.

Last summer, Forbes ranked United as the 11th most-valuable organisation in MLS at US$230 million among the 20 teams active in 2016. United had revenues of US$25 million in 2016 but lost US$1 million overall.

Thohir and Levien have committed around US$250 million to build the 20,000-capacity Audi Field stadium that is due to open this summer and is expected to increase the value of the franchise.