- Bids reportedly reached US$250 million
- Beemok and Navarro acquired the WTA Charleston Open in 2018
Financial services firm Beemok Capital has agreed to acquire the Cincinnati Western and Southern Open tournament from the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
South Carolina-headquartered Beemok, the family office of billionaire businessman and Sherman Financial Group chief executive Benjamin Navarro, is expected to complete the deal in the third quarter of 2022.
The financial terms of the Western and Southern Open, which is one of six joint 1000 series events of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), n were not disclosed.
According Sports Business Journal (SBJ)bids of up to $250 million were received during the initial bidding process, including at least half a dozen at $200 million or more.
Other high profile bidders reported include Guggenheim Partners chief Mark Walter and tennis icon Billie Jean King; a group led by Peter Michael Reichel, owner of the Hamburg ATP event in Germany; and Mark Ein, owner of Citi Open, alongside Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) and RedBird Capital.
Completion of the transaction remains subject to customary closing conditions. Approval from the ATP and WTA Tour boards is also needed, given that Navarro will take over the USTA’s lease for the women’s tournament, which is owned by sports marketing agency Octagon.
For Navarro, the tournament adds to his burgeoning tennis portfolio. In 2018, he bought the WTA Charleston Open and injected US$50 million to renovate his Credit One Stadium home. His daughter, Emma Navarro, is also a professional player.
In addition, Beemok operates two tennis complexes in the Charleston area that serve as host venues for USTA Pro Tour events, the USTA Girls’ National Clay Championship for 18-year-olds and a high performance tennis academy for aspiring players.
“It is an honor to partner with the USTA, ATP and WTA to help write the next chapter of the Western & Southern Open, one of the biggest events in tennis in the world,” Navarro said.
“We welcome the opportunity to become a steward of this important tournament, as well as an ambassador for the USTA’s mission to promote the development and growth of tennis.
“We are committed to providing the best resources to the best players in the world and look forward to enhancing the Western & Southern Open experience for players and fans alike.”
Lew Sherr, USTA Chief Executive, added, “In entering this sales process, the USTA had clear objectives. We wanted to find a potential steward who would invest in the event and in our sport to ensure that more children and more communities have access to our sport.
“We wanted to create a structure that suited American tennis, and ultimately we wanted to elevate one of the premier events on the tennis calendar to even greater heights.
“With this sale to Ben Navarro and Beemok Capital, we exceeded these objectives. Ben’s proven track record in Charleston, his commitment to tennis and, more importantly, to communities, make him the ideal new owner in Cincinnati.