Sunday, October 24 2021

Inter Miami CF owners Jorge and Jose Mas are buying out two of their partners, Marcelo Claure and Masayoshi Son, in a deal that gives the MLS club an enterprise value between $600 million and $650 million, according to multiple people familiar with the negotiations.

The Claure and Son stakes total about 48% of the team, according to the people, who were granted anonymity because the specifics are not public. Should the transaction close, it would leave the Mas brothers and David Beckham as the team’s remaining owners as it continues to pursue a Miami stadium.

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The deal comes amid some turmoil within the ownership group, the people said. That includes fallout from a $2 million fine that MLS levied on the team earlier this year for circumventing roster guidelines, an infraction reported to the league by Claure, according to The Athletic.

The Mas brothers are financing the deal with cash and a loan from Goldman Sachs, according to two of the people. It is likely that limited partners could buy into the team in the near future, they said.

A spokesman for MLS declined to comment, while representatives for Goldman Sachs and Inter Miami didn’t immediately respond to requests. Attempts to reach Claure, Son and the Mas brothers weren’t immediately successful.

A valuation in the $600 million to $650 million range would be among the highest ever for an MLS team in a transaction. Inter Miami was valued at $525 million in Sportico’s most recent valuations.

Inter Miami’s roots date back to David Beckham’s original MLS player contract, which gave him the right to a franchise for $25 million, significantly below expansion fees paid for other teams that have joined the league recently. It is MLS’s second attempt in Miami—the Fusion were contracted in 2002 amid financial troubles—and the team’s first 12 months have been marred with setbacks and controversy. The club is currently playing in an interim home in Fort Lauderdale as it continues to seek approval for its permanent stadium project, called Miami Freedom Park.

In May, MLS fined Inter Miami $2 million, a league record, for underreporting player salaries and circumventing roster guidelines. Following a review of more than 1,400 documents, the league also issued a $250,000 fine to Jorge Mas, managing owner at the time of the infractions. (The league said Mas failed to disclose his knowledge of one of the violations, but that it found no wrongdoing on the part of Claure, Son or Beckham).

People around the league believe this transaction could help the team move forward with unified ownership. The Mas brothers, who run Coral Gables-based construction and engineering firm MasTec, are considered the likeliest owners to be able to push the stadium project through.

Inter Miami is the latest MLS team involved in a major transaction this year. The Wilf family, owners of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, purchased Orlando City earlier this year in a deal that valued the club and its stadium at $400-$450 million. Real estate developer Ted Segal purchased the Houston Dynamo in a $400 million deal two weeks later. Meanwhile, the league is running the sale process for Real Salt Lake and discussing another expansion franchise.

Son is the billionaire founder of SoftBank, where Claure, the former CEO of Sprint, serves as a high-ranking executive.

Raine Group represented the Mas brothers and the team in the negotiations.

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Source: Yahoo Sports


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