Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Magic in selling a business interest.

Recently the partners of Redmount Capital were at a luncheon with Earvin Magic Johnson delivering a keynote speech.

We were hoping for some insight from Magic, in our mind the most successful pro-athlete entrepreneur, turning his athletic power into business empire. He built best-in-kind connections to propel his business juggernaut. His business visions are not only contrary to the consensus but also ahead of times.

Right away we were made aware that Magic is a genuinely fun person. He is charming yet highly opinionated.  We knew he was competitive but as he spoke we also learned how fond he is of a good competition. It seems he is not only in it to win it but also to get better. All along he was affectionate to the listeners, truly appreciating their interest and presence.

"So should I sell Lakers?"

As he spoke we kept looking for details in his entrepreneurial ways. He let us as he brought up the
sale of his ownership in LA Lakers. Magic acquired interest in to the team in 1994. In 2010 the news
of his LA Lakers sale took many by surprise, Most people thought that he was making a mistake and that he will come to regret it. 

At the luncheon Magic explained why he decided on the sale. LA Lakers were doing as good as they have ever done...or could have ever done. Kobe was getting older. Magic had another plan in the works. He was just looking for the right offer. 

What was his plan? His purchase, in partnership with Guggenheim, of LA Dodgers.

Magic knew Dodgers presented a similar opportunity as Lakers in 1994, only larger. He realized that he needed capital. which he could obtain, if he sold something. He also knew that he needed his focused attention on Dodgers.

Several well-known billionaire investors were ready to partner with him in the Dodgers deal. Choosing the right one seemed easy but he wanted himself to be a large investor in the deal. He wanted to call the shots and make good money.

Prior to that, several offers were received by Magic to consider selling Lakers, but he was looking for the "right offer". He did not elaborate what he thought the "right offer" was. We suspect he knew what it would look like - at a right price and timed to let him get the Dodgers' deal done.

"So should I sell Lakers?" Magic asked us all in the room, extending the microphone towards us. "You guys are smart enough, you have clients like me". "Yes", spoke the group. Magic nodded in satisfaction, with his smile getting brighter.

In 2010 Earvin Magic Johnson effectively exchanged his ownership in LA Lakers for the one in LA Dodgers. A classic replacement of a business interest in a stage of diminishing returns for a one with remaining opportunities. Another plus, the business was bigger with higher RIE (Return on Invested Effort). 

This may just be the Magic approach to selling a business interest.

Photo by Curtis E. Hollowell, Redmount Capital Partners.