Lakers Ownership Group: Guggenheim the Heir to the Buss Family?

The Buss Family controls the Los Angeles Lakers ownership, but the group also includes a few deep-pocketed minority owners that stand ready to take over should the Buss family decide it is time to sell. This article delves into who owns what percentage, the acquisition timelines, and the specific rights, such as rights of first refusal, that help maintain control and stability within the team.

The Buss Family: The Pillar of the Lakers Ownership Group

The Buss Family Trust remains the cornerstone of the Lakers’ ownership structure. Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the Lakers in 1979 from Jack Kent Cooke for $67.5 million. Upon his passing in 2013, Buss’s six children became controlling owners through the Buss Family Trust, which holds about 66% of the team’s ownership. This trust ensures the Buss family’s ongoing control and governance over the Lakers.

Ownership Breakdown

  • Buss Family Trust: Approximately 66%
  • Mark Walter and Todd Boehly: 27%
  • Edward P. Roski Jr.: 3%
  • Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong: 4.5%

Mark Walter and Todd Boehly’s Acquisition

Mark Walter, CEO of Guggenheim Partners, and Todd Boehly, a prominent investor, collectively hold a 27% stake in the Lakers. Their acquisition marked a significant shift in the ownership structure, reinforcing the team’s financial stability and future prospects. In 2021, Walter and Boehly acquired this stake from Philip Anschutz’s company, AEG (Anschutz Entertainment Group). This deal not only increased their involvement in Los Angeles sports but also underscored their strategic vision for the Lakers.

Mark Walter, a key figure behind the Guggenheim Baseball Management group, played a crucial role in the purchase of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. Walter and his group bought the Dodgers for a record $2.15 billion from Frank McCourt, demonstrating their substantial financial capabilities. Given Guggenheim Partners’ deep pockets, there is speculation that Walter and his group could potentially buy a majority stake in the Lakers if the Buss family ever decides to sell their shares.

Edward P. Roski Jr.’s Stake

Edward P. Roski Jr., a real estate mogul and minority owner, holds a 3% stake in the Lakers. Roski, a longtime friend and business associate of Dr. Jerry Buss, acquired his share in the late 1990s. His contributions to the development of the Staples Center and the surrounding L.A. Live entertainment complex have been crucial to the Lakers’ business operations.

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s Investment

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, a biotech billionaire, acquired a 4.5% stake in the Lakers in 2010. Soon-Shiong bought his share from Magic Johnson for an estimated $27 million. In 2018, he sold part of his stake to the Buss Family Trust and Mark Walter, consolidating their minority ownership in the franchise. This transaction further strengthened Walter’s investment portfolio within Los Angeles sports franchises.

Rights of First Refusal and Strategic Control

Rights of first refusal, primarily held by the Buss Family Trust, control the future of the Lakers ownership group. This provision ensures that if any minority owner decides to sell their stake, the Buss family has the first opportunity to purchase it, thereby maintaining their majority control. This right was exercised when Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong sold part of his stake to Mark Walter and the Buss Family Trust. The Buss family opted not to buy the entirety of Soon-Shiong’s shares, allowing Walter to increase his stake.

Financial and Strategic Impact

The Lakers’ current valuation is estimated to be around $7 billion, reflecting the strategic management and successful financial operations under the Buss family’s leadership. With the impending new NBA TV deal, the value of all franchises in the league is expected to rise further. Mark Walter and Todd Boehly’s involvement has added another layer of financial strength, given their successful track records with various business ventures. The potential for Guggenheim Partners to acquire a larger stake in the Lakers highlights the importance of deep-pocketed investors in maintaining the team’s competitive edge.

The Lakers Ownership Group is on Solid Ground

The ownership structure of the Los Angeles Lakers is a well-orchestrated balance of strategic investments, legacy planning, and financial acumen. The Buss Family Trust’s control, bolstered by the involvement of key investors like Mark Walter and Todd Boehly, ensures the team’s enduring success and stability. This structure not only preserves the Lakers’ rich history but also positions them for continued excellence on and off the court.

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