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Liberty’s Braves Spinoff Sets Stage for Future Sale, CEO Maffei Says

Liberty’s Braves Spinoff Sets Stage for Future Sale, CEO Maffei Says

Liberty Media has no immediate plans to sell the Atlanta Braves, but the parent company of the MLB club wants to be prepared structurally if it does decide to make that play.

That’s one of the reasons why Liberty will spin off the Braves and its related real estate development, The Battery, into an independent public company called Atlanta Braves Holdings Inc. The move to make the Braves a separate entity, known as an asset-backed stock, isn’t expected to have a major change on club management or how the franchise’s adjacent multi-use development is operated, according to the company.

“[But] what it does mean is if somewhere down the road the team is to ever be sold, we can avoid corporate-level tax,” Liberty Media CEO Greg Maffei told Sportico during a break at the company investor meeting. “We have no plans to [sell], but the opportunity for an investor to purchase or come and look is probably cleaner now.”

The Braves, one of two MLB clubs owned by publicly traded companies, are seeing strong returns coming off a World Series title last year—posting $252 million in revenue in the third quarter alone (which doesn’t include 2022 postseason gains). The Colorado-based parent company of the reigning NL East division champion wants to be able to sell if necessary, as team valuations across baseball continue to soar to record levels.

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“Is this a two-year plan to where they want to sell to a third party? Or is it just a new strategy to maximize shareholder value for both Liberty Media and the newly formed (Braves) public company?” Irwin Kishner, executive chairman of Herrick’s Sports Law Group, asked in a phone interview. “It could be both—doesn’t have to be one or the other.”

Talk of a Liberty spinoff of one of its sports properties, which include Formula One, picked up after a stock-swap deal with Berkshire Hathaway last year. Maffei added that there won’t be immediate tax benefits from the maneuver, as the team isn’t currently on the market. Instead, the move is being touted as a way to better highlight the Braves’ value outside of its current tracking stock structure.

“Some investors are less comfortable with tracking stocks and the nature of its complications now,” Maffei said. “If you want to just be an investor in the Braves, a standalone company, a pure investment, you have the opportunity.”

Liberty isn’t new to this strategy. The entertainment conglomerate, led by media…

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