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Cubs executives and The Raine Group form SPAC

Chicago Cubs executives and investment advisory firm The Raine Group have teamed up to form a special purpose acquisition company that could acquire a sports team, sports gambling firm or digital media and podcasting opportunity.

According to reports, the SPAC, known as Marquee Raine Acquisition Corp., is seeking US$325 million for a media-telecom acquisition.

Tom Ricketts, the Cubs executive chairman, is part of the team formulating the SPAC, which was filed on November 27 as an equal partnership between Marquee and The Raine Group.

Marquee was formed by Ricketts last year and launched a regional sports network in 2020. The Raine Group is already involved with sport after assisting in the impending sale of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

A series of eight ‘macro themes’ were identified by the Marquee Raine SPAC that it claims is guiding their thinking about an acquisition. One of those is “real money gaming” in the US and another includes “sports-enabled assets”, which is said to be an attractive investment opportunity since the rise in global sports platforms, legal sports gambling and single-entity leagues. Amongst the other themes include, digital media, audio podcasting, live entertainment, health and wellness, interactive games and technology.

Sports-focused SPACs have come to the forefront throughout 2020, with 33 having been formed as of early November. There primary focus is to raise money at an initial public offering (IPO) to make an acquisition that cannot have been identified ahead of time. Instead, they commonly propose targets or areas they wish to acquire, much like the Marquee Raine SPAC has done.

Others involved in the SPAC comprise of Crane Kenney, who has been Cubs president of operations since 2009, and Brett Varsov, head of mergers and acquisitions at Raine, are co-CEOs. Ricketts and Brandon Gardner, co-founder of Raine, are each co-chairman. Seven other executives named in the prospectus are Alexander Sugarman, an executive vice president at the Cubs, and Jason Sondag, who is involved in strategy planning for the Cubs.

Joe Ricketts, Tom Rickett’s father, purchased a 95 per cent controlling stake in the Chicago Cubs team in 2009 for US$845 million, becoming the eight owner of the Major League Baseball (MLB) franchise in its 133-year history.

Raine Group has US$3.3 billion in assets under management and specialises in the area that the SPAC is motivated to invest in in the future.

Author: Jake Wilkin