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Bushes and Romneys take a swing for Miami Marlins

Two of America’s most prominent Republican dynasties — the Bushes and the Romneys — are locked in a $1bn-plus battle to acquire the Miami Marlins baseball team, in a tangled sale process that previously included a rival bid from the family business of Jared Kushner.

A consortium bid fronted by Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor and presidential candidate, and Derek Jeter, the retired New York Yankees all-star, is close to sealing an agreement to purchase the club from its art dealer owner Jeffrey Loria, according to people briefed on the discussions.

However, these people added that a rival bid led by Tagg Romney, the son of former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, remained close behind and was still in the race to buy the club.

Bloomberg News and The Miami Herald reported this week that the Bush-led bid was worth roughly $1.3bn, adding that the process was not over since a sale agreement had yet to be signed.

The sticking point is whether the Bush-led group will be able to finance a deal, said two people.

“Bush may have got ahead of himself,” said one person involved in the negotiations. This person added that the Romney offer was “possibly a more credible” bid, while the Bush-led consortium still needs to arrange financing to fund its purchase.

Rob Manfred, the Major League Baseball commissioner, said late on Tuesday that there were several bids for the club and that none had been accepted by Mr Loria. “One of those groups is the Bush-Jeter group. When we have a resolution as to which bid is going to be accepted, we will announce that.”

The family business of Mr Kushner, son-in-law and top aide to US President Donald Trump, was interested in acquiring the Marlins earlier this year but later decided to pull out from the bidding process, said people close to the family. Mr Kushner has stepped away from the family business since he joined the White House.

The race to purchase the Marlins highlights the limited opportunities to acquire sports clubs in the US. Billionaires have been enthusiastic buyers of teams in recent years, pushing up valuations.

One expert on sports dealmaking said he was surprised by the huge valuation being discussed for the Marlins, which are lossmaking and do not have a highly engaged fan base like the Boston Red Sox or Yankees.

Mr Loria has owned the Marlins since 2002, after buying the club for $158m. The team won the World Series in 2003 but in recent years has struggled on the field and in attendance figures.

The team also owns a stake in the league’s digital media start-up called MLB Advanced Media. It was founded several years ago and has turned into the dominant provider of video streaming technology.

Via FT