Japanese Companies Join the Battle for the Angels! Three Businessmen” are Candidates
The sale of the Angels by team owner Art Moreno (76) was suddenly announced in August. The sale was widely reported in Japan because Shohei Ohtani (28) is a member of the team, and the move to sell the team has been in full swing since the beginning of the off-season.
In mid-September, Patrick Soon-Shiong, 70, owner of the Los Angeles Times, a leading local newspaper, came forward to buy the team. Furthermore, Joe Lacob (66), owner of the NBA’s Warriors, is also expected to make a bid soon.
In the meantime, a surprising news was reported locally. The New York Post reported that “a Japanese company has expressed interest in acquiring the Angels. Although the name of the specific company was not disclosed, negotiations are already underway to acquire the popular baseball team.
The Angels are a monster baseball team, earning about $210 million (about 31 billion yen) a year in broadcasting rights fees alone. The Angels are a monster baseball team, with annual revenues of approximately $210 million (about 31 billion yen) from broadcasting rights alone, one of the highest among all 30 MLB teams. It is said that more than $2.5 billion (about 370 billion yen), the highest amount in MLB history, would be required to acquire the team.
Which Japanese companies would be interested in making a deal for a team that will go down in baseball history? Nachi Tomonari, a sports journalist, explains, using asset information from the U.S. economic magazine “Forbes” as a clue.
The most right-wing is Masayoshi Son, 65, of the SoftBank Group. His net worth is 2.727 trillion yen, and he acquired the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2005, indicating that he has an extraordinary interest in baseball. After acquiring the Hawks, he acquired many FA players without regard for money, and I suspect that he will try to strengthen the team in the same way. Ohtani will not become a FA until after the 2023 season, so he will probably sign a long-term contract before then. Next offseason, several Cy Young Award-class pitchers, such as Corbin Burns (28), will be available in FA, so one of them should be acquired.
The main contender would be Hiroshi Mikitani, 57, of Rakuten Group, who has a net worth of 569 billion yen, and could also be a potential acquirer. Mikitani became the owner of the Rakuten Eagles in 2004, and after the acquisition, he brought in very good managers such as Katsuya Nomura (84 years old) and Senichi Hoshino (70 years old). It is expected that they will bring in a great manager in the majors as well.”
Tomonari also mentioned Yusaku Maezawa, 46, founder of ZOZOTOWN, as a candidate not to be forgotten. While this is not impossible, as there is no shortage of controversial figures, the appointment may not necessarily be a positive for Otani.
He has a passion for baseball,” said Maesawa, who acquired the naming rights to the Chiba Lotte Marines stadium when he was president of ZOZO. However, with assets of $1.9 billion (approx. ¥280 billion), it would be difficult for him to acquire the stadium alone. Still, there is a possibility of buying a baseball team if it is deemed a viable business: Bruce Sherman, 74, who bought the Miami Marlins for $1.2 billion (about 180 billion yen) in 2017, $400 million of which was covered by borrowing.
However, it is also true that many people who buy with debt are more interested in short-term profits than in strengthening the team. Even if Mr. Maezawa is able to buy the team with borrowed money, if he is burdened with a large amount of interest payments, it is hard to say that he will not trade Otani in order to secure immediate profits.
On November 19 (Japan time), this year’s Major League Baseball MVP will be announced. While many fans are looking forward to Otani’s accomplishment, the behind-the-scenes battle to acquire the team is likely to heat up as well.
Photo： Jiji Press (1st photo), Afro (2nd photo)