Mas joins pursuit of Marlins; Bush joins Romney group competing with Jeter for team

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On the day that Miami businessman Jorge Mas emerged as a third suitor to buy the Miami Marlins, it was learned that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and businessman Wayne Rothbaum have joined forces with Tagg Romney in Romney’s ongoing attempts to purchase the team.

That latest twist in the Marlins’ sales talks means that Bush, Romney and Rothbaum are competing directly against former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter, who was Bush’s former partner in a bid to buy the Marlins. Jeter is now trying to buy the team without Bush.

Bush left Jeter’s group last month after Jeter made clear that he wanted to control the team’s business and baseball operations. But Jeter has been scrambling to come up with the money to meet the Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria’s $1.3 billion asking price.

Rothbaum, Bush and Romney have submitted a $1.1 billion bid, according to a Bloomberg News report, and hope to close on the deal before the July 31 trade deadline. A source briefed on the talks confirmed that Rothbaum, Bush and Romney have joined forces to bid on the Marlins but said no decision has been made on who will get the team.

Mas, meanwhile, has emerged as another contender for the team, according to two sources briefed on the situation.

Mas is the Chairman of the Board and Co-Founder of MasTec, which according to its web site, is “a part of some of the largest and most complex infrastructure construction across the country.” 

Mas also is Chairman of the Board of the Cuban American National Foundation, an organization founded in 1981 dedicated to the promotion of a free and democratic Cuba.

According to a source, Mas is willing to contribute at least $200 million, potentially much more, and has been seeking investors to solidify his bid. It is unclear if he is willing to meet the $1.3 billion asking price.

But Mas, at this point, appears to be running third in the process, because he’s the least furthest along of the three.

Under the restructured Romney/Bush/Rothbaum deal, an involved source said Rothbaum would stand to be the “control person,” the MLB term used to describe what was at once time called the managing general partner. That’s because Rothbaum would have the most money invested in the deal.

There’s still a possibility Romney could be the “control person,” but it won’t be Bush, who had only $10 million of his own money invested in his joint bid with Jeter.

Rothbaum is president and managing member of Quogue Capital, LLC, a $500MM life sciences investment fund founded in 2002. He previously pursued the team independently, though a source insisted he never made a formal bid.

Romney, son of former Republican president nominee Mitt Romney, previously bid just over $1.3 billion for the team – slightly more than the Jeter/Bush group at that time – but could not meet that asking $1.3 billion price. Romney is the co-founder of Massachusetts-based Solamere Capital.

That Romney/Rothbaum group also includes at least three former big-league pitchers: Tom Glavine, Dave Stewart and Al Leiter.

The Marlins are negotiating purchase agreements with both the Jeter and the Romney/Rothbaum/Bush groups. The Romney group has signed partnership agreements with several investors, Bloomberg reported.

Jeter and his banker/business partner Greg Fleming, met with MLB commissioner Manfred and Marlins president David Samson in New York on Monday, and Jeter is believed to be well short of the $1.3 billion asking price.

Jeter reportedly would contribute $25 million of his own money toward a deal but has been seeking investors to cover the rest.

MLB allows no more than 40 percent of a purchase to be financed by debt and also is adamant that any new owner must have sufficient resources to operate the team after buying it.

The Marlins are expected to lose more than $60 million this year, and Loria – who has borrowed considerable capital to fund losses – is eager to sell the team, according to multiple sources.

The Marlins’ low revenues are one reason why completing a sale has been so difficult.

The Marlins receive only about $20 million annually from their local TV deal, the lowest in baseball. They’re also 28th among 30 teams in attendance, averaging 20,606 tickets paid per game. And their $115 million payroll is their largest in franchise history.

“There is an amazing amount of interest actually,” Manfred told Craig Mish and Jim Bowden in a June 13 interview on Sirius XM Radio. “People kind of focused on the Jeter group and Romney group. There are other interested buyers out there. There is by no means just those two. They are the furthest along. They’ve made robust offers, both of them. I remain of the view that one of them is probably the most likely to end up as the new owner of the team. Even if it’s not one of those two, I am convinced the Marlins are going to sell.”

Beyond serving as chairman of MasTac and CANF, Mas is the managing partner of a private equity group with investments in the fields of aviation, banking, commercial real estate, healthcare, and fixed income trading market makers.

Mas also serves on the Board of Overseers of the University of Miami School of Business and, according to his Wikipedia page, “has been active in lectures and presentations to students across the country about self-empowerment and the challenges and opportunities awaiting them in the global marketplace.”

Latino Leaders Magazine has recognized Mas as one of the 100 most influential Hispanics in the United States. He has received multiple awards, including the Bravura Award for his defense of free sppech and the Simon Wiesenthal Center National Community Service Award for his contribution toward freedom.

Mas graduated from the University of Miami with a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration.

Mas is one of three sons of Jorge Mas Canosa, a Cuban-American immigrant who founded the Cuban-American National Foundation and MasTec. Mas Canosa died in 1997 from lung cancer.

Mas did not return a phone message that was delivered to him through his publicist.

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