How are things progressing in the PGA Tour’s efforts to move forward on the framework agreement it signed in June with Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund? It depends who you ask.
ESPN reported “that while the negotiations with PIF chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan and other officials with the country’s sovereign wealth fund are ongoing, the proposed deal is far from getting done for a variety of reasons, including PIF officials wanting more control of the new for-profit enterprise. Sources said the Saudis are also digging in their heels on incorporating team golf into the sport’s future global ecosystem.”
Earlier this week, PGA Tour executive Jason Gore sent a memo to players providing an update. As first reported by ESPN, Gore wrote, “We remain focused on reaching a Definitive Agreement with PIF and the DP World Tour, but not surprisingly, these negotiations have resulted in unsolicited outreach and proposals from a number of other interested investors. All of this activity reinforces the Tour’s strong position and our potential for growth.”
Could the Tour end up going another direction and avoiding the scrutiny of the U.S. Department of Justice’sAnitrust Division? It’s a direction that Randall Stephenson, in his letter of resignation as an independent director of the PGA Tour’s board, suggested the Tour should consider. He wrote, “I hope, as this board moves forward, it will comprehensively rethink its governance model and keep its options open to evaluate alternative sources of capital beyond the current framework agreement.”
Bloomberg previously named three bidders last month, including Endeavor Group Holdings, Inc. In May, Endeavor CEO Ari Emanuel said on the Freakonomics podcast that, at the behest of LIV’s Phil Mickelson and Bryson DeChambeau, the company had been considering investing a billion dollars in LIV until Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan persuaded him to reconsider.
Speaking at a Bloomberg conference this week, Emanuel confirmed the company is interested in buying a stake in the Tour.
“We put in a bid. It’s one of the great sports. I love it. You know, I think we could add to it what we’ve added to all of our sports.”
Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox and has strong ties to Monahan, who formerly worked there, and Kenry Kravis, of “Barbarians at the Gates” fame as co-founder of the investment firm KKR & Co., were also mentioned by Bloomberg as potential U.S. investors.