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Peter O'Malley's Dodgers bid backed by South Korean company

January 30, 2012 |  9:29 am

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Peter O'Malley's bid to buy back the Dodgers is supported by financing from the South Korean conglomerate E-Land, two people familiar with the Dodgers' sale process said Monday.

If the O'Malley bid is successful, E-Land Chairman Song Soo Park would become a major investor in the Dodgers, one of the people said.

The ownership group also would have investors from Los Angeles. O'Malley has had discussions with Tony Ressler, a minority owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and co-founder of Los Angeles-based Ares Capital, according to a person familiar with the talks.

Foreign investment is not necessarily an obstacle to MLB ownership; the Seattle Mariners' ownership group includes a significant Japanese presence. In November, O'Malley told The Times that he wanted to lead an investment group in which he would return as the Dodgers' chief executive.

E-Land's involvement in the Dodgers bidding was first reported Monday by Korean media outlets including the Korea Herald, which called the family-owned and privately-held company "South Korea's leading fashion retailer." The report did not mention O'Malley but said E-Land had advanced to the second round of bidding on the Dodgers.

O'Malley is one of at least eight prospective owners to make last Friday's first cut. The others include East Coast investment baron Steven Cohen, St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke and groups led by Magic Johnson, Beverly Hills developer Alan Casden, Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso and former Dodgers Manager Joe Torre, investor and civic leader Stanley Gold and the family of the late Roy Disney, and New York media investor Leo Hindery and investor Tom Barrack of Santa Monica-based Colony Capital.

Frank McCourt, the Dodgers' outgoing owner, expects the team to sell for at least $1.5 billion. That would be almost double the previous record price for a major league club, set when the Ricketts family bought the Chicago Cubs for $845 million in 2009.

Under O'Malley, the Dodgers were pioneers in international baseball, particularly in Asia. In 1994, three years before O'Malley sold the team to News Corp., Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park became the first Korean player to appear in a major league game.

In November, O'Malley joined Park and former Dodgers pitcher Hideo Nomo -- the second Japanese player to appear in the majors -- in an investment partnership to own and operate the Dodgers' old spring training home in Vero Beach, Fla. Park and Nomo agreed to use their homeland connections to help lure teams, camps and clinics to Vero Beach.

E-Land has expanded its business interests from fashion into such areas as hotels and resorts, restaurants and construction, according to the company website.

According to the E-Land website, the company opened its first U.S. retail store in 2007 at a mall in Stamford, Conn., under the brand name "Who A.U." The slogan for the brand: "California Dream."

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Tom Barrack, Leo Hindery are latest Dodgers bidders

T.J. Simers: A new Dodgers owner? Careful what you wish for

-- Bill Shaikin

Photo:  Peter O'Malley, second from right, with the Fox ownership team at opening day in 1998. From left, Chase Carey, Bob Graziano, Rupert Murdoch and Peter Chernin. Credit: Jon Soohoo / Los Angeles Dodgers.

 

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