Over the past 24 hours Stephen Pagliuca, co-chairman of Bain Capital and co-owner of the Boston Celtics, has added some serious firepower to his bid to buy Premier League club Chelsea FC. Multiple reports emerged Wednesday that Larry Tanenbaum, who serves as chairman of the NBA board of governors and has stakes in several North American sports teams, and Eduardo Saverin, co-founder of Facebook (now Meta), were joining Pagliuca’s bid to the club, currently owned by sanctioned Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich.
With four finalists remaining in a race too close to call, Pagliuca has become a dark horse contender, and his new partners should boost his chances. Here’s a look at what we know about this bidding team.
Pagliuca joined private equity and investment firm Bain Capital in 1989 and is now co-chairman. He bought a minority stake in the Boston Celtics of the NBA in 2002. The team’s valuation has since grown eightfold, to $3.55 billion, and Forbes estimates that Pagliuca holds a 10% stake. The Duke and Harvard graduate also owns around 40% of Italian Serie A soccer club Atalanta, worth an estimated $175 million. As to whether there will be a conflict to own both Chelsea and Atalanta, a source linked to Pagliuca’s bid says Forbes that the group plans to comply with all EPL and UEFA regulations. If a reorganization of ownership is necessary, an example to cite is Red Bull Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg, both of which are controlled by Red Bull GmbH. UEFA did not respond to an immediate request for comment.
Tanenbaum, who had a career in civil engineering construction, has become a powerful figure in the sports world, serving as chairman of the board of governors of the National Basketball Association, co-chairman of the Toronto 2026 FIFA World Cup and member of the Board of Directors of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. The Canadian businessman has been betting on sports for the past two decades and owns a 25% stake in Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment through his holding company Kilmer Group. MLSE owns several professional teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL, the Raptors of the NBA, and Toronto FC of Major League Soccer. Tanenbaum also invests in real estate, infrastructure and private companies such as Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Limited, food and beverage company Cypress Five Star Inc. and Fornebu Lumber. On Wednesday, Pagliuca said in a statement that Tanenbaum would “co-manage” Chelsea’s bid.
Immortalized by Andrew Garfield’s portrayal in the Oscar-winning film The social networkSaverin rose to prominence after co-founding Facebook (now called Meta) with Mark Zuckerberg in 2004. Although he didn’t have the sports background of Pagliuca or Tanenbaum, Meta made Saverin a very wealthy man. Forbes estimated he was worth $12.1 billion as of Wednesday afternoon, mostly from a small but valuable stake in Meta. Saverin’s wife, Elaine, is also part of the offer.
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Pagliuca is said to have added others to his pool of star bidders. the FinancialTimes and the Associated Press report that longtime Hollywood producer and Sony Pictures executive Peter Guber – who owns stakes in MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers, NBA’s Golden State Warriors and MLS’s Los Angeles FC – has joined Pagliuca’s bid team, as did former Disney executive Bob Iger and his journalist wife, Willow Bay. Billionaire venture capitalist Jim Breyer, one of Facebook’s early backers, also confirmed that he was part of Pagliuca’s bidding team.
Raine Group, the adviser on the deal, is expected to submit a final offer to the UK government on April 18. A representative of the Pagliuca offering has confirmed the participation of all of the members listed above, as well as B Capital co-founder Raj Ganguly, investor John Burbank and serial tech entrepreneur Div Turakhia.