Kushner Family Is in Talks to Buy Miami Marlins

Kushner Family Is in Talks to Buy Miami Marlins

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Marlins Park in Miami. The Kushners, whose scion Jared Kushner is a close adviser to President Trump, are said to have pursued purchasing the Marlins for several months.

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Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

The sale of a major league sports team always draws attention and local interest. But this one may attract even more interest, especially around the White House.

The Kushners, the New York real estate family whose scion is a close adviser to President Trump, are in negotiations to buy the Miami Marlins baseball team, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter.

The Kushners — led by Joshua Kushner, a venture capitalist, and Joseph Meyer, his brother-in-law and key lieutenant for the family’s investments — have pursued the Marlins for several months, devising a complicated financial arrangement that would include bringing in partners later, these people said. Mr. Kushner is the younger brother of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law.

Neither Jared Kushner, who married Ivanka Trump in 2009 and is a top White House adviser, nor Charles Kushner, the family patriarch who spent over a year in prison for illegal campaign donations, tax evasion and witness tampering, is participating in the effort, these people said.

Yet it was unclear whether a deal would be reached, or whether the family would prevail in any bidding contest. Forbes reported on Thursday that the team had a “handshake agreement” to sell the team for about $1.6 billion, a figure that the people involved in the process said the Kushner family has contended was too high and refused to pay.

Any deal would have to win the approval of Major League Baseball, which would closely scrutinize the buyer’s financing and would probably seek to ensure that Charles Kushner had no role in operations.

The deal has already prompted questions within Major League Baseball, according to the people briefed on the conversations, about what kind of relationship Mr. Trump would have to the team and whether that would be a benefit or a disadvantage. Would fans or sponsors boycott or embrace the team or league based on a comment or Twitter post by Mr. Trump? And would Mr. Trump attend games?

While Jared Kushner has not been not involved in the bidding for the Marlins — and he has pledged to be walled-off from any of the family’s businesses — he and his brother had bid for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012, though they eventually withdrew from the bidding. The winner was a group backed by the financial firm Guggenheim Partners, which paid over $2 billion.

As part of the financing for the Kushners’ bid, which was being shepherded by the boutique investment bank LionTree, the family would plan to bring in additional partners to help defray the costs.

Representatives for the Kushners, the Marlins and LionTree declined to comment.

Some of the people with knowledge of the Kushners’ bid said that Joshua Kushner, drawing upon his experience investing in technology companies like Instagram, saw potential profits in capitalizing on the Marlins’ digital rights.

The Marlins are currently owned by Jeffrey Loria, who paid $158 million for the team in 2002 after selling the Montreal Expos back to Major League Baseball. The team won the World Series in 2003 — when they defeated the Yankees — but has not returned to the playoffs since.

Still, Mr. Loria persuaded Miami-Dade County to sell bonds to finance the construction of a new $639 million stadium. Critics of the agreement argued that the bond sale could eventually cost Miami taxpayers more than $1 billion.

And there is one other potential wrinkle that might weigh on Mr. Loria: having to pay a percentage of any sale’s profits back to the county. As part of the Marlins’ agreement with the county, Mr. Loria would owe Miami-Dade money if he sold the team within 11 years of signing the 2009 stadium agreement. According to The Miami Herald, the payment would be based on the team’s 2009 valuation of about $250 million; it has risen since then.

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