Dodgers’ Finance Chief Wilhelm Resigns as New Owners Take Over

Peter Wilhelm resigned as chief financial officer of the Los Angeles Dodgers three days after a group that includes basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson completed its purchase of the Major League Baseball team.

Wilhelm resigned in a May 4 letter to Mark Walter, chief executive of Guggenheim Partners LLC, which financed much of the record $2.15 billion purchase from Frank McCourt.

The amount tops the $1.1 billion Stephen Ross paid for the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins, the previous record for a U.S. sports franchise.

“The franchise and organization that you purchased is in fantastic shape,” Wilhelm wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News. “Yes, we can all use some freshening up, and that is a continuous process, but even with the recent headwinds, the Los Angeles Dodgers will continue to be a model franchise.”

Joe Jareck, a spokesman for the Dodgers, confirmed the resignation in an e-mail.

Wilhelm joined the Dodgers in 2007. Before that, he served as the CFO of McCourt Group, advising on the parent company’s cash management and strategic investments. He began advising McCourt in 2001.

McCourt put the Dodgers into bankruptcy in June, claiming baseball Commissioner Bud Selig forced the team into a cash crisis by rejecting a new contract with News Corp. (NWSA)’s Fox Sports, holder of the club’s TV rights through the 2013 season.

Won Auction

The Johnson/Guggenheim group won an auction for the team on March 27, beating offers from Stan Kroenke, who owns the NFL’s St. Louis Rams and Arsenal of English soccer’s Premier League, and a group led by hedge fund manager Steven A. Cohen of SAC Capital Advisors LP.

Wilhelm in a May 7 letter to his coworkers obtained by Bloomberg News said they should be proud of what had been accomplished.

“I hope for each of you, the community, and the worldwide fan base that 2012 is a year when everyone again comes to know the true organization, not the media depiction, with a championship both on and off the field,” he wrote.

Walter will be the controlling partner, allowing him to vote on behalf of the team on issues brought before the owners of the 30 MLB clubs.

Later this year, the new owners will have the chance to sell future television rights, the club’s most valuable asset.

While based in Brooklyn, New York, the Dodgers became the first major league team with a black player when Jackie Robinson took the field in 1947. The team moved to Los Angeles in 1958.

The Dodgers are in first place in the National League West with a 19-11 record.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Soshnick in New York at ssoshnick@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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