Los Angeles FC's Carlos Vela, left, defends on Inter Miami CF's Lee Nguyen during the second half of an MLS soccer match Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Los Angeles FC's Carlos Vela, left, defends on Inter Miami CF's Lee Nguyen during the second half of an MLS soccer match Sunday, March 1, 2020, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

LA soccer team gets record-setting $700m plus valuation

By Eben Novy-Williams Time of article published Mar 7, 2020

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INTERNATIONAL - Owners of the Los Angeles Football Club have partially bought out a stake held by Malaysian businessman Vincent Tan in a deal that values the club at more than $700 million, the most ever for a Major League Soccer team, according to people familiar with the situation.

A handful of the club’s current owners bought half of Tan’s 20% stake, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the agreement isn’t public. The group plans to buy the other half internally as well.

Founder and chairman of Berjaya Corp., Tan has been looking to scale back his soccer portfolio, which includes Welsh soccer team Cardiff City. Attempts to reach him through Berjaya and Cardiff City weren’t immediately successful.

The LAFC deal continues a rapid uptick in team valuations for MLS, which starts its 25th season this weekend. Expansion fees -- the cost to add a new team -- have mushroomed to more than $300 million. Last year, Silicon Valley mogul Meg Whitman and her husband bought a stake in FC Cincinnati that valued the club at $500 million.

LAFC has a large ownership group comprised of business executives, athletes, celebrities and private equity managers. The club is controlled by a trio of owners -- Apollo Global Management senior partner Larry Berg, Ares Management co-founder Bennett Rosenthal, and Brandon Beck, co-founder of Riot Games.

Minority owners include Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber; actor Will Ferrell; Magic Johnson; and former U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm and her husband, former baseball player Nomar Garciaparra.

LAFC joined MLS in 2018 as part of the league’s rapid expansion. It plays in a $350 million, privately financed stadium. 

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