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A’s Beane, RedBird’s Cardinale team up for sports-themed SPAC

Gerry Cardinale, chief executive officer of Redbird Capital Partners LLC. (Griselda San Martin/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

American investment firm RedBird Capital Partners, majority owners of French soccer club Toulouse FC and investor in prominent regional sports broadcaster the YES Network, has teamed with Billy Beane, executive vice president of baseball operations of Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s, to create a new sports-themed special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

SPACs, otherwise known as blank check companies, are specifically designed to facilitate the acquisition of other entities. They are becoming increasingly common in finance circles, with SPAC Research estimating they have raised more than $19bn up to 2020. The instrument was notably used in a three-way merger earlier this year that turned prominent gaming operator DraftKings into a public company.

RedBird Capital, led by founder and managing partner Gerry Cardinale, and Beane are intending to raise $500m in a public offering for what will be called RedBall Acquisition Corp. The SPAC will be specifically targeting the sports, media, and data analytics sectors where they intersect with pro sports franchises.

“We believe that the experience and capabilities of our management team will make us an attractive partner to potential target businesses, enhance our ability to complete a successful business combination, and bring value to the business post-business combination,” reads RedBall Acquisition Corp.’s new registration filing with the US Securities & Exchange Commission.

“Our management team represents a unique combination of operating, investing, financial, and transactional experience. This group has a strong track record of creating value for shareholders in multiple sports, media, and data analytics companies that we have led, managed, and/or invested in,” the filing reads.

RedBird Capital is also investor in OneTeam Partners, which pools the name, image, and likeness rights of pro athletes, and previously had a holding in premium hospitality company On Location Experiences.

Beyond Cardinale and Beane, who will be co-chairmen of RedBall Acquisition Corp., RedBird Capital Partners’ Alec Scheiner, who was also former Cleveland Browns president and before that an executive with the Dallas Cowboys, and Luke Bornn, vice president of strategy and analytics for the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento Kings will also be involved in the company. Scheiner is set to be chief executive of the effort, while Bornn will be executive vice president. 

“The deep business-building and investing experience of Mr. Cardinale and Mr. Scheiner complement Mr. Beane’s team-management expertise, creating a group capable of identifying attractive investments and executing deals across the global sports landscape,” the company’s filing reads.

“We believe the RedBird investor base, consisting of business founders and entrepreneurs, many of whom have previously invested with RedBird and its investment professionals, is a competitive advantage as it relates to sourcing potential business targets.”

The board of directors for the effort will include Lew Wolff, the Oakland A’s co-owner and former managing general partner, and former Premier League executive chairman Richard Scudamore, among others.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs is managing the offering, while Rice, Hadley, Gates & Manuel LLC, an international strategic consulting firm co-founded by former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, has been retained by RedBall Acquisition Corp. as an adviser.

Under terms of the offering, RedBall Acquisition Corp. intends to return shareholder funds to them if a business acquisition cannot be completed within two years. The offering on the New York Stock Exchange involves 50m shares at $10 each.

Beane, through his prominent role in the book and subsequent feature film Moneyball, has had a major influence in the rise of analytics throughout the sports industry. The RedBall name for the new SPAC represents a combination of RedBird and Moneyball.