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RedBird and ‘Moneyball’ Billy Beane launch IPO for sports team acquisition firm

RedBall hopes to raise US$500m in IPO to spend on a professional franchise.

29 July 2020 Sam Carp

Getty Images

  • RedBall is first sports-themed SPAC
  • Blank-check company to focus on businesses in sports, media and data
  • Management team also includes senior sports team execs Alec Scheiner and Luke Bornn

RedBird Capital Partners, the US investment firm led by Gerry Cardinale, has teamed up with Oakland A’s executive Billy Beane to create RedBall Acquisition Corp, which is being billed as the first sports-focused special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

RedBall filed with the securities and exchange commission (SEC) on 28th July for an initial public offering (IPO), during which it plans to raise US$500 million that it then intends to spend on acquiring a professional sports team.

Though RedBall could acquire a company in any sector, its filing said it ‘intends to focus on businesses in the sports, media and data analytics sectors’, with a particular focus on professional sports franchises ‘which complement the management team’s expertise and will benefit from its strategic and hands-on operational leadership.’

According to the filing, the offering on the New York Stock Exchange will consist of 50 million units priced at US$10 each. Each unit will comprise one Class A ordinary share and one-third of one redeemable warrant.

Shareholder money will be kept in trust for 24 months until RedBall identifies an acquisition target, at which point money would also be returned if no acquisition is made.

Cardinale (pictured) and Beane, who gained fame for his data-driven, ‘Moneyball’ approach as the general manager of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) A’s, will be co-chairmen of RedBall.

The management team also includes chief executive Alec Scheiner, the former president of the National Football League’s (NFL) Cleveland Browns, and executive vice president Luke Bornn, vice president of strategy and analytics for the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Sacramento Kings.

The filing continued: ‘We believe that the experience and capabilities of our management team will make us an attractive partner to potential target businesses, enhance our ability to complete a successful business combination, and bring value to the business post-business combination.

‘Our management team represents a unique combination of operating, investing, financial and transactional experience. This group has a strong track record of creating value for shareholders in multiple sports, media and data analytics companies that we have led, managed and/or invested in.’

SPACs have already raised a record US$19.3 billion in 2020, according to SPAC Research.

Several private companies have gone public this year by merging with SPACs, including daily fantasy sports and betting operator DraftKings, which in April completed a three-way merger with gaming technology specialists SBTech and investment firm Diamond Eagle Acquisition Corp (DEAC). Sportradar, the Swiss sports data intelligence company, is reported to be considering going down the same route.

Cardinale’s RedBird has been active in recent weeks, acquiring an 85 per cent stake in French soccer club Toulouse FC. The investment firm is also an investor in the YES Network, which has local rights to New York Yankees and Brooklyn Nets games.

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