South Korean Group Looking to Buy LA Dodgers

January 31, 2012

Park Sung-su the 58-year-old founder and top shareholder of privately-owned South Korean retailer E-Land Group has confirmed on Tuesday that he is part of a consortium shortlisted to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers out of bankruptcy.

The Dodgers were put up for sale after owner and Los Angeles businessman Frank McCourt was forced to place the team in bankruptcy protection last June, and could fetch a price of more than $1.5 billion, a record for a Major League outfit. McCourt bought the team from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in 2004 for $430 million, primarily financed with debt.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig said earlier this month he wanted the Dodgers sale – which is being conducted by Blackstone Group – to be wrapped up by April 30.

E-Land said it was taking a stake in a bidding consortium For the Dodgers, with local media saying its around 15 percent share was worth 150-200 billion won ($133-$177 million).

But the company declined to comment on local media reports it joined forces with former Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley to bid for one of baseball’s most storied franchises.

Other shortlisted bidders are said to include billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen, ex-Yankees and Dodgers manager Joe Torre and basketball great Magic Johnson.

Baseball is one of the most popular sports in South Korea, and Los Angeles is home to a large Korean population, with the Wilshire neighborhood dubbed ‘Koreatown’.

While E-Land’s motivation for a stake in the Dodgers remains unclear, such a move would give it greater reach into the Los Angeles market.

Park, who studied architecture at the prestigious Seoul National University, opened his first E-Land clothing store in Seoul in 1980 and the company has grown quickly, mainly through debt-fuelled acquisitions.