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Twins Owner Jim Pohlad Makes Bid for Disney’s Regional Sports Networks, Sources Say

In teaming up with Atlanta Braves and Detroit Pistons owners to pursue a deal with Disney, Pohlad could expand his family’s media stake beyond the radio.

Twins Owner Jim Pohlad Makes Bid for Disney’s Regional Sports Networks, Sources Say
Jim Pohlad at Target Field.

Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad has reportedly thrown his hat into the race to acquire 21 regional sports networks from Walt Disney Company. According to Bloomberg News, two inside sources say Pohlad is joining Platinum Equity LLC and Liberty Media Corp. in their bid.

If chosen to take over, Pohlad would share ownership with two other professional sports team owners: Liberty chairman John Malone, who owns the Atlanta Braves, and Platinum chairman Tom Gores, who owns the Detroit Pistons.

Both Platinum and Liberty had initially expressed interest in the particular networks that relate to their respective sports teams’ hub. Disney, however, is looking to sell all 21 networks together to avoid having to make separate deals.

Following its $71 billion takeover of 21st Century Fox Inc., Disney was required by the U.S. Justice Department to sell off the regional sports networks. Analysts estimate the 21 networks could fetch between $20 billion and $22 billion.

Pohlad’s bidding group will go up against offers thus far from Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., Apollo Global Management LLC, Major League Baseball, and the New York Yankees (who want to buy specifically the YES Network, their home channel and the highlight of the regional networks).

Neither Pohlad, nor the other entities involved spoke to Bloomberg about the rumored bid. However, Robert Pohlad told TCB last month that the family was looking to grow their businesses into new areas.

“We have been and want to continue to cast a relatively wide net,” Robert Pohlad said.

Pohlad Cos. has “a great deal of liquidity” to pursue such expansions, he added, due to the sales of its banking and bottling businesses within the last half-decade. 

Prior to the Disney-owned sports networks bid, Pohlad Cos. created a new leadership position for the company’s management group: a chief operating and strategy officer. Mike Borofsky was hired on to the role.

Additionally, Tom Pohlad was moved from his place as president and COO of Carousel Motor Group to the post of CEO of PaR Systems LLC, replacing the outgoing Mark Wrightsman. Wrightsman will remain on the board of PaR Systems, though, and serve as a company advisor.

Chase Hawkins, vice president of Porsche Brand, was selected to take over in Pohlad’s place at Carousel Motor Group.

"We are excited by these leadership changes which will capitalize on the energy and creativity among the smart, talented and passionate teams at both operating companies," said Bert Colianni, Pohlad Companies CEO, in a statement about the shifts last week.

Said Pohlad in prepared remarks in early January: "The Pohlad family has long relied on strong, future-focused leadership to build our portfolio of businesses and support vital community initiatives.”

 

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