Levien and Kaplan are the majority shareholders of the Swans, who will compete in the second-tier English Championship this season after getting relegated from the Premier League. Combined, they will claim the majority stake in United. Previously, they did business together with the Memphis Grizzlies. Levien is no longer involved with the NBA team, but Kaplan remains vice chairman. The duo also has partnered in esports and technology ventures.
Al Tylis, a former U.S. real estate executive and Swansea City minority owner who co-founded a children’s foundation named for his family, will also buy a stake in United’s investment group, sources said. Kaplan and Tylis were seen in Levien’s suite at Audi Field for the July 25 match against the New York Red Bulls. The other investors have not been identified but include several other Swansea City stakeholders, a source said.
Levien — who has homes in Washington and New York and is a regular visitor to United matches and events — seems likely to retain his title as CEO.
Technically, MLS owns all 23 teams and rewards operating rights to individuals and groups, but deals are typically consummated outside the league’s sphere before facing board approval. The board met this week in Atlanta before Wednesday night’s All-Star Game.
The transaction will mark the end of Erick Thohir’s six-year involvement with United. The Indonesian businessman owned 78 percent of the team and partnered with Levien to cover the team’s costs of constructing Audi Field, the $400 million, 20,000-capacity stadium that opened last month. (The city committed up to $150 million on land acquisition and infrastructure for the project in Southwest Washington.)
Detached from daily operations and an infrequent presence in Washington, Thohir last year began seeking additional investors with the hope of reducing his stake. Ultimately he decided to sell his entire portion. Levien, who led the charge to get Audi Field built, purchased Thohir’s stake with the plan to form a new, diversified group.
The first prominent name to surface was Patrick Soon-Shiong, a Los Angeles physician who became a billionaire through medical innovations and this year purchased the Los Angeles Times. Reports in the spring suggested he was on the verge of purchasing the majority stake in United. But sources told The Post at the time that, while Soon-Shiong was in the mix, he probably wasn’t going to become the main investor.
Nonetheless, Levien remained in negotiations with Soon-Shiong for some time. Last month, as The Post reported, talks fizzled. Had it worked out, Soon-Shiong probably would’ve had a behind-the-scenes role, similar to Thohir’s.
Last year, Forbes valued United at $230 million, a figure that, in anticipation of Audi Field’s opening, grew 48 percent since 2016. The team is also planning to build a training center in Leesburg that will include a 5,000-seat stadium for a second-division team, Loudoun United. The facility is slated to open sometime next year, and the USL team is scheduled to begin play in 2019.