It sounds like a turnaround opportunity to us. After ignominiously losing three straight post-season games in early October, the Chicago Cubs baseball team has now gone 99 years without a World Series win. The Boston Red Sox, who hadn't won a World Series since 1918, broke their losing streak in 2004. Even cross-town rivals the Chicago White Sox broke their long-running losing streak in 2005. But not the Cubbies, who won their last title in 1908.
As it happens, the Cubs are up for sale. Real estate magnate Sam Zell, who sold his Equity Office Properties to The Blackstone Group in January for a jaw-dropping $39 billion, recently bought Tribune Company, which owns the Cubs and its Wrigley Field stadium, among numerous newspapers, websites and TV stations. Now he's looking to sell non-core assets.
So who better to fix baseball's perennial losers than a private equity pro? There are plenty of names floating around as possible bidders for the team, including 17-year KKR vet Michael Tokarz. He is currently a portfolio manager at publicly traded MVC Capital.
Plenty of other groups are reportedly sniffing around Wrigley Field, including Madison Dearborn Partners chief executive John Canning, software billionaire Mark Cuban and the Ricketts family from Omaha, Nebraska.
But as The Chicago Tribune, also owned by Sam Zell, pointed out in a recent piece, Tokarz has something of a homefield advantage. He is involved with venture and private equity programmes at the University of Illinois and sits on the board of its foundation. “I'm from Illinois,” he says. “I was born here.”
And if he could get the Cubs to the World Series, he'd be a hero there, as well.