Yankees And LeBron James Buy Into AC Milan Soccer Team Ownership



The New York Yankees and a firm backed by NBA superstar Lebron James are taking minority stakes in Italian soccer club AC Milan, according to several reports Tuesday, bringing together some of the most prominent properties in sports globally.

Key Facts

The Yankees’ investment arm Yankees Global Enterprises and the James-backed California bank Main Street Advisors are joining private equity firm RedBird Capital Partners’ $1.2 billion takeover of AC Milan, as first reported by the Financial Times and later confirmed by the Athletic and Sportico.

The move represents a partnership between some of the most valuable properties in all of sports: the Yankees are the world’s most valuable baseball team at $6 billion, AC Milan is the 14th most valuable soccer franchise at $1.2 billion and James is the second highest-paid athlete in the world with $121.2 million in annual earnings, all according to Forbes’ estimates.

RedBird declined to comment and the Yankees did not immediately respond to Forbes’ request for comment.

Key Background

A major investor in several sports ventures, RedBird Capital has aligned itself previously with James and the Yankees rival Boston Red Sox, taking stakes last year in James’ entertainment company SpringHill and in Fenway Sports Group, owner of the Red Sox, Liverpool F.C. of the Premier League and the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL. James is one of only two active billionaire athletes alongside golfer Tiger Woods, and first took a 2% stake in Liverpool in 2011 before transferring ownership to Fenway Sports Group as part of the RedBird deal.

Big Number

$6.81 billion. That’s how much we estimate Yankees Global Enterprises is worth, making it the sixth most valuable sports empire in the world. The group also holds stakes in regional sports broadcaster YES Network and MLS club New York City FC.

Surprising Fact

The Yankees have a long history with top-flight soccer, entering a historic marketing partnership with Premier League club Manchester United in 2001 to grow fanbases in their respective countries. Today, the Yankees are closely aligned with United’s rival Manchester City, as the two franchises’ parent companies co-own New York City FC.

Further Reading

New York Yankees and LA fund join investors in AC Milan (Financial Times)