Thursday, September 03, 2009

Case Study

Have you heard about the billionaire guy who made his money in the financial services field who bought a baseball team and financed it with a ton of debt?

No, not Tom Ricketts. Tom Hicks. Hicks is in big trouble after missing a loan payment:

In April, 40 creditors -- banks and institutional investors -- declared Hicks Sports Group, which owns the Rangers and Dallas Stars hockey team, in default on $525 million of loans after Hicks withheld a quarterly interest payment.

There have been media reports, denied by the club, that Major League Baseball has been forced to loan the Rangers money to cover operations.

Think the Rangers are the only team in trouble? Think again:

Rumors also are swirling around the New York Mets, which are owned by a family that lost millions of dollars in the Bernard Madoff swindle.

Erin Arvedlund, author of "Too Good to Be True," a book published last month about the disgraced money manager, said last week that the Wilpons would be forced to sell the team due to losses totaling about $700 million.

Mr. Ricketts. All the professional media and bloggers (this one included) are giving you advice on how to run the team. Here's one more:

Don't buy the team.

A lot of high net worth people get into sports and commit a huge portion of their net worth into these assets. For the last 100 years, they were cash cows and saw increasing enterprise values. Not so anymore. The debt behind the teams soaks up the cash flow and enterprise values are starting to decline. The Cubs lost between $200 million and $400 million in value since 2007. Over in the NFL, the most profitable, cash flow secure of all the sports leagues, 25% of teams saw their enterprise value drop this year.

One of this blog's pieces of advice was to pay down the debt used to finance the acquisition as quickly as possible. That's got to be job #1. If you don't think you can do that, run, don't walk away from this deal.

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