In 2014, billionaire investor Marc Lasry bought the Milwaukee Bucks, alongside investor Wes Eden, for $550 million. The co-owners would later be joined by fellow hedge fund manager Jamie Dinan.
At the time, Lasry, the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Avenue Capital, had to be talked into the deal, he told CNBC’s “Delivering Alpha” on Wednesday. But looking back four years later, he has no regrets: “It was a good investment,” Lasry said.
The team’s value has greatly appreciated since 2014. It’s worth an estimated $1.075 billion, according to Forbes, although Lasry told “Delivering Alpha” that he “hopes” it’s worth closer to $2 billion. But though the owners have doubled their initial investment, Lasry has no plans to sell.
“Normally, any investment that I would have made that would have gone up two, three or four times in that period of time, [I] would have sold,” he said. But in the case of owning a professional sports team, “you quickly find out how fun it is and how enjoyable it is. It stops being about the money and [becomes] about enjoying the process and the time.”
Lasry also believes that the Bucks’s value will only continue to grow. “I think you actually are going to see a lot more gains,” he said. “You’ll have the gains mainly because the media rights keep moving up and if you take a look at it, the one sport that is doing really well is basketball.”
Lasry’s not alone in this belief. Billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who purchased the Houston Rockets for a record $2.2 billion in September, agrees that a basketball team is a worthwhile investment.
“The NBA has become this true world sport,” Fertitta said during a news conference after buying the team, as reported by the Houston Chronicle. “I would have been scared to pay $2.2 billion to buy an NFL franchise today. The NBA is where it’s at.”
For Fertitta, however, owning the Rockets was about more than making money. As a Houston native, it was a longtime dream of his. “We couldn’t sleep over this deal, it was so bad,” he said. “It’s because you want something so bad and you don’t want to lose it.”
And he plans to hold onto that dream for a long time. “In 50 years, when I’m not around, I think it’ll still be with the Fertitta family,” he said. “I think it’ll still be here for a long, long time.”
As for Lasry, owning the Bucks has transformed from a business venture to a source of personal enjoyment. “It’s one of the most fun things I’ve ever done,” he told CNBC.
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