Fox mulls Dodgers buy

Looks at minority investment

Fox is said to have signed a confidentiality agreement with bankers selling the Los Angeles Dodgers, putting itself up as a potential buyer or investor in the team after settling a lawsuit Tuesday that resolved thorny issues between the two sides and might have crimped any transaction.

Fox has generally downplayed interest in reacquiring the Dodgers. A person close to the situation confirmed a report in the Wall Street Journal Thursday that the media giant doesn’t want to be a full owner, but could consider financing a bid to become a minority investor with a 15%-20% stake.

A News Corp. rep declined to comment.

Dodger owner Frank McCourt is selling the team out of bankruptcy eight years after first acquiring it from News Corp. As reported (Variety, Jan. 11, 2012), a list of other possible buyers could include Time Warner Cable, former CNN talk-show host Larry King, the Roy E. Disney family, film investor and HDNet chairman Mark Cuban, NBA Hall of Famer-turned-business magnate Magic Johnson and Los Angeles developer Rick Caruso.

Fox has retained the right to challenge the sale of any portion of the team to Time Warner Cable, as per a provision in the current Fox-Dodgers rights agreement that was designed to ward off another network creating a rival Dodger cable channel.

The sale of the Dodgers is stipulated to take place by April 30 and follows a complex court battle with a lots of money at stake through a lucrative stream of TV rights. Fox’s settlement this week preserved its window for exclusive negotiating rights for a new TV deal through Nov. 30.