Guggenheim is flexing its $170 billion muscles

  @FortuneMagazine February 28, 2013: 9:34 AM ET
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Todd Boehly (left) and Mark Walter at Guggenheim's New York offices


When the bidding began last winter for the Los Angeles Dodgers -- a storied baseball team in America's capital of glamour -- the lengthy list of suitors was predictably studded with bold-faced names. There were TV celebrities like Larry King, baseball luminaries like the former Dodgers great Steve Garvey, billionaire investors such as hedge fund mogul Steve Cohen, and prominent owners of other teams, such as Stan Kroenke of the NFL's St. Louis Rams.

Fittingly enough, the winner was a charismatic superstar with local pedigree: retired Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson. Or rather, the victors were, as the headlines typically put it, "a team led by Magic Johnson." Sports fans across the country gasped at the audacious size of the triumphant bid: $2.15 billion. That sum obliterated the next highest reported offer, from Cohen, by a staggering $850 million. The difference between the two bids was larger than the previous record for a baseball club: $845 million for the Chicago Cubs in 2009.

The team "behind" Magic Johnson -- Guggenheim Partners -- turned out to be the main force in the deal, and the eye-popping Dodgers acquisition has been only one of a handful drawing ever more attention to the firm. The New York- and Chicago-based operation has been turning up everywhere in Los Angeles. In September, a Guggenheim group spent a reported $370 million for Dick Clark Productions, the company that produces the Golden Globes telecast and So You Think You Can Dance. A few years before, Guggenheim teamed up with other investors to buy seven trade publications, including the Hollywood Reporter.

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