JAT Buys MSG, Sparking Rumors Of Knicks Sale Push

Aug 26 2014 | 8:39am ET

JAT Capital Management has picked a high-profile arena for its first activist play: Madison Square Garden.

The hedge fund, which has never before filed an activist position, filed its first on Friday night, announcing a 6.7% stake in MSG, which owns the famed New York City arena as well as the teams that play in it. The purchase makes JAT one of MSG’s top three shareholders.

The hedge fund said it would seek “constructive” talks with MSG’s owners, the Dolan family, in an effort to improve “long-term value.”

JAT did not say what it hoped MSG would do to achieve that, but its move has some believing that it would push for a sale of the National Basketball Association’s New York Knicks.

The recent sale of the Los Angeles Clippers—that city’s second most popular hoops team—for $2 billion has some suggesting that the Knicks could be worth $3 billion. MSG’s total market capitalization is about $5 billion, and the company owns not only the building and the Knicks, but hockey’s New York Rangers, the WNBA’s New York Liberty and the MSG television networks.

The Dolans have shown no interest in selling their flagship property. And it isn’t clear that a campaign to force them to could succeed: MSG has a dual-share class structure, giving the Dolans control of 69% of the voting power.

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