Fenway Sports Group, the prominent sports team owner, has completed its acquisition of the Pittsburgh Penguins, of US ice hockey’s NHL, after it was approved by the league’s board of governors.
The sale is valued at around $900 million and adds another property to Fenway’s portfolio, with the Penguins joining Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and Liverpool FC, of English soccer’s top-tier Premier League.
In its annual list of NHL team values released this week, Forbes valued the Penguins at exactly $900 million, up 38 per cent from their $650 million valuation last year – which was largely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
FSG, which is owned by billionaire John Henry, will take ownership from Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, although Lemieux is understood to have retained a small portion of his equity stake.
The operational structure of the franchise will not change with Lemieux continuing in his role as head of hockey operations, Brian Burke as team president and Ron Hextall as general manager.
David Morehouse, Penguins chief executive and president, said: "Fenway brings to the Pittsburgh Penguins everything we can ask for in an ownership partner to continue the historic success of our franchise.
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“They understand what the Penguins mean to Pittsburgh, they know how to win, they are a great cultural fit with our staff and our city, and they can be trusted to build upon the legacy of what Mario and Ron created here."
Lemieux, an NHL Hall of Famer who played each of his 17 seasons with the Penguins, joined Burkle to purchase the team out of bankruptcy in 1999 for around $107 million.
Lemieux and Burkle had explored selling the Penguins on several occasions in recent years, including in 2015, when they hired Morgan Stanley to help them look at options.
The Penguins have made 15 straight playoff appearances and won three Stanley Cups since 2009. They also secured the highest local television ratings share of any NHL team last season.
FSG assets additionally include US Nascar motor racing team Roush Fenway Racing and regional sports network New England Sports Network (NESN).
The company was valued at $7.35 billion after investments by RedBird Capital Partners, the US investment firm, and NBA superstar LeBron James earlier this year.
RedBird invested $750 million in FSG for a 10 per cent stake.
The firm and James have an ownership stake in the Red Sox and are likely to have a share in the Penguins.