Jeff Smith 2 p.m., Dec. 18
Tony Gwynn has been courted, successfully, by a man who must be used to that sort of thing from both sides. Thomas Tull has convinced Tony Gwynn to join him in his effort to purchase the San Diego Padres. Tull is the owner of Legendary Pictures, a film production company.
After the failed attempt of the minority group headed by former CEO Jeff Moorad, majority owner John Moores put the Padres up for sale again. No word on the asking price, but the team could sell for $700 million or so, at least that seems to be in line with a media consensus on what Moores is expecting. Also no word on how much, if any, the minority group is going to retain, which would knock a good portion off of whatever deal is struck.
Still, so many unknowns, but plenty of speculation.
What is known is that there are several interested parties besides Tull, most notably Peter O'Malley, former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and renown hedge fund king Steven Cohen, founder of SAC Capital Advisors. While O'Malley's net worth is unknown, Cohen is estimated to have personal wealth of over $8 billion.
Speculation arose last week when it was revealed on Twitter that Tony Gwynn and Gwynn's agent John Boggs were spotted entering a hotel where Tull has been known to favor whenever he is in San Diego. Local media picked it up and apparently hounded Gwynn for comment. Tony spoke on the Darren Smith show (XX1090 AM) to confirm the meeting with Tull.
"That's really the extent of it," Gwynn said when asked for details. "We sat down and had a conversation [May 15th], and I was just really encouraged with the things that [Tull] had to say and the things that he wants to do and I was just really fired up about it. And to be honest about it, I told him, 'Hey, you're in, I'm in,' and that really has been the extent of it."
Gwynn has been the head coach of the San Diego Aztecs baseball team since 2003. The Hall of Fame player spent his entire career with the San Diego Padres, after attending San Diego State University and playing both basketball and baseball there. Mr. Padre is beloved in the San Diego community, and is also a part-time analyst on Padres broadcasts.
Thomas Tull founded Legendary Entertainment in 2004 with funding of $500 million from several private equity sources. In 2010, Tull once again partnered with other private equity sources in order to buy out the original investors. The company is reportedly now worth over $1.5 billion, and they are in near the end of a deal with Warner Bros. to co-produce and co-finance 40 films.
Legendary's success includes box-office winners such as Batman Begins, Superman Returns, 300, The Dark Knight, The Hangover, Clash of the Titans, Inception, The Hangover Part II, and Wrath of the Titans. So far, box office totals in films that Legendary has been involved in top over $6 billion. Legendary also has other divisions and ventures, in television, comics, and foreign films.
What isn't known is Thomas Tull's personal net worth; owning a company worth $1.5 billion that was acquired using private equity doesn't necessarily mean that Tull is worth what the company is worth. Tull has yet to speak with local media concerning his meeting with Gwynn.
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- Inside Baseball — Dec. 9, 1999