Carl Pohlad was the owner of the Minnesota Twins. He died in early 2009. His estate is currently embroiled in a $121 million dispute with the IRS about the value of his ownership interest and the commensurate estate taxes owed. The IRS claims that his interest was worth $293 million while his executor claims it was only worth $24 million. The executor’s value is much lower because it claims that even though Mr. Pohlad owned a majority interest in the team through several entities, he owned only 10% of the voting shares and he died when the stock market was at a 12 year low.
1. Fractional interests of privately held businesses are difficult to value.
2. Voting control of an entity is worth significantly more the non-voting interests.
3. Mr. Pohlad died when the financial markets had collapsed and the stock market was being pummeled. However, baseball teams with television contracts and other revenue streams have different business cycles than financial institutions, and should not be valued in the same manner.
4. As if the Twins habitually losing to the Yankees in the regular season and the playoffs is not ignominious enough, it has be to be more galling to the Pohlads and Twins fans that George Steinbrenner’s estate did not pay any federal estate taxes on his $1.6 billion (yes, with a B) interest in the Yankees because he died in 2010 when there was no federal estate tax.