And no - he's not Magic Johnson. He's Mark Walter, chief executive of the investment management firm Guggenheim Partners, who seemed to have been forgotten in the bidding process. Just so you know: He's not an L.A.-based guy - he's a Chicago guy. He and his wife recently bought a home in the Lincoln Park section of Chicago for $2.3 million (not an astronomical sum for a guy who just led the biggest purchase of a sports franchise - and quite a contrast to McCourt's spending binges). Tellingly, he does not show up on the Forbes lists of richest Americans or world's billionaires. Now sometimes, Forbes will not go with someone they don't have enough information on, but it's also possible that Walter just didn't make the cut. (There's crazy rich and then there's merely ridiculously rich.)
Guggenheim Partners is another one of those mysterious, privately held investment management firms that's been making lots of money - especially in the down years of 2007 and 2008 - and that few people know much about, other than it has more than $100 billion of assets under its supervision, and a workforce of 1,400. Yes, it was started up by a Guggenheim, Peter Lawson-Johnston II, who is the great grandson of Solomon Guggenheim. Maybe the biggest news out of Guggenheim Partners came a few years ago when they hired Alan Schwartz to be their executive chairman. Schwartz had the misfortune to be chief executive of the Wall Street firm Bear Stearns at the time it came apart and had to be sold to avoid bankruptcy. His move to Guggenheim was considered somewhat of a surprise because it's not been considered among the top-tier investment players.
Schwartz has bolstered the deal-making side of the operation and brought on a bunch of heavy-duty mergers and acquisition people (he's also boosted the firm's investment banking operations out of Los Angeles). Its early track record includes several big deals, such as Disney's acquisition of Marvel, and Sidney Harman's buyout of Newsweek from the Washington Post Co. So how much skin in this game does Magic have? Yet one more unknown, though nowhere near the $2 billion purchase price. By the way, there's already been all kinds of speculation about the financing of the deal, but nothing has been announced - and I'm not sure it will be. Both Major League Baseball and Guggenheim are private entities and ordinarily they're not obliged to disclose much of anything. Perhaps some details will be available from Bankruptcy Court, where the purchase must be approved next month.