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John Henry's Latest Deal

The artificial turf of Miami's Pro Player Stadium is reasonably well-kept, to be sure, but to John Henry, the founder of a $2.4 billion futures trading firm, it's like the Elysian fields. An avowed sports fanatic, the Boca Raton, Fla., native had made three unsuccessful bids to buy professional teams—the Miami Dolphins, the Colorado Rockies and a professional hockey team—in years past before finally scoring last month, when he bought the 1997 World Series champion Florida Marlins for a cool $150 million.

As a trader, Henry is known for his uncanny eye for undervalued assets. But a number of people in the baseball world openly wonder if Henry's love of baseball has clouded his business judgment. Former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga, the Blockbuster Video mogul, first put the team up for sale in June 1997, proclaiming to the world that the Marlins—an expansion team that began play only in 1993—had lost millions of dollars and was bleeding him dry. (Huizenga later claimed the Marlins lost $29.3 million in 1997 alone.) After the Marlins captured the World Series last year, Huizenga immediately began a fire sale of expensive players, cutting the team's payroll from $53 million to $13 million—supposedly a signal that desperate measures were necessary to keep the Marlins afloat.

But others suspect Henry may be using a proprietary model for baseball team profitability. The New York Times suggested in October that when Huizenga's creative accounting techniques were stripped away, the Marlins actually made $13.8 million in 1997. And since Florida taxpayers will likely pick up the $300 million tab for a new stadium in the works, Henry is clearly making full use of his skills at financial leverage. Or, it could be a simple diversification play, working off of weak correlations between baseball team earnings and the Standard & Poor's 500.

Return on investment, however, isn't likely to enter Henry's mind when the Marlins take the field next year. “The thing that was refreshing about John was that, here's a guy that [sic] wanted to own a team for nothing more than the love of the game,” Jim Liberatore, general manager of the Sunshine Network (the cable television station that broadcasts the Marlins games) told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Others have a different take. Chip Gesner, a sports finance adviser, told the Sun-Sentinel, “People who know John Henry will say, ‘He's one of the weirdest guys I ever met.'”

Briefly

  • Sumitomo Bank Capital Markets has named Barry Sherman head of short-term trading. He had served as executive director at CIBC Wood Gundy.
  • BT Alex Brown has named Tim Batho, former head of index management at Legal & General, head of equity derivatives for institutions.
  • James Courtenay has been named managing director and head of the European high-yield group at CIBC World Markets. He had been a managing director in the debt capital markets unit at Bankers Trust in London.
  • OptiMark Technologies has named Phillip Riese chief executive officer. He had been president of the consumer card services group at American Express Travel Related Services Co.
  • Catherine Morley has been named principal consultant in TCA Consulting's risk practice unit. She had served as a manager in the group treasury department at HSBC Holdings.
  • IQ Financial Systems has announced the appointment of Donald Wood as chief technology officer. He had been senior vice president for trading systems at Infinity.
  • Chris Macmillan, former co-head of Libor sales at Warburg Dillon Read, has been named European head of Libor sales at ABN Amro.
  • Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corp. has appointed David Eldon chairman. He had been chief executive of Hongkong Bank. Aman Mehta has been promoted from executive director to chief executive of the bank.
  • Richard Dunn has been named head of risk management at Salomon Smith Barney. He had been cohead of global equity markets at Salomon.
  • Deutsche Bank has named David Battle, former head of global sales at Rolfe & Nolan, head of marketing for its global exchange services group.
  • Hugh Freedberg, former chief executive and deputy CEO of Hill Samuel, has been appointed chief executive of Liffe.
  • The Cantor Financial Futures Exchange has appointed Susan Phillips, former dean and professor of finance at George Washington University's School of Business and Public Management, as its first public director.
  • Michael May has been named senior manager for institutional marketing at GNI. He had served as head of structured products sales at Nationsbank in London.
  • Fimat has named Lucasz Cianciara, former vice president in Sumitomo's credit derivatives group, director of its global credit derivatives group. Fimat also promoted Francois Defferriere from head of European businesses to vice chairman of the group and president of Fimatex.
  • Sheldon Sussman, former director in Deutsche Securities' credit derivatives group, has been named head of Rabobank International's New York credit derivatives desk.
  • SS&C Technologies has promoted Gregory Reid to vice president of its financial services analytics group, from vice president of intellectual capital.
  • Robert Palache has been appointed joint head of securitization at Nomura in London. He had served as managing partner in Clifford Chance's financial practice.
  • Mint Communications has named Chris Cadman customer service director, Andrew Robinson sales executive, Mike Arthur U.K. support manager and Vimmal Datta associate support analyst.
  • Neil Levy has joined Triple Point Technology as vice president of power trading systems. He had been the principal designer of a power risk management system at DNL Risk Management Associates.
  • The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has promoted Craig Donohue from vice president of market regulation to senior vice president and general counsel. The exchange also promoted Kimberly Taylor to senior vice president of risk management.
Please fax information on job changes to 212-366-0551.
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