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Who Leaked the MLB Financial Statements?

This morning we mentioned the Deadspin story that presented leaked financial statements of several Major League Baseball teams. This included the Pittsburgh Pirates who have had 18 straight losing seasons yet remain profitable – making $14.4 million and $15 million in net income for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2008 and 2007 respectively.

The Seattle Mariners financials are also now available and the Texas Rangers numbers will be rolling out tomorrow, so there’s plenty of financial analysis treasure hunting for you to engage in, if that’s your thing.

Fis is unprecedented access to the teams’ financial position and performance, PLUS! all the wonky details of their Summary of Significant Accounting Policies – everything from revenue recognition to prepaid signing bonuses, guaranteed contracts, so on and so forth.

However, it also includes details that give insight into MLB controversial revenue sharing program, such as the Pirates using $44 million in ’07 and ’08 to develop players, as reported by the New York Times. With the lowest payroll in baseball and perpetual loserness, baseball fans in the Steel City might rather see that money spent on some free agents so they have something to discuss between the hockey and football seasons.

But perhaps more importantly, the Times reports that MLB is not taking this breach lightly. Since these teams are privately held, the information is not widely shared and the suspects are few:

Access to the teams’ audited financial statements is usually limited to the commissioner’s office; baseball’s lead bankers, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase; and two accounting firms, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers. But [Florida Marlins President David] Samson said that “in the course of business, other entities have access.” Teams do not see one another’s financial reports, but receive a general accounting of where they rank compared with the other 29 clubs in profitability.

Of course this is the point in the post where you’d expect us to point the finger at E&Y or PwC but in reality, it seems unlikely that the leak would come from either firm. Likewise, it doesn’t make much sense for it to have come from BofA or JP Morgan. All these firms no doubt boast the services they provide to Major League Baseball and any professional servicing those clients wouldn’t dare risk damaging their firm and their career by exposing sensitive financial data of such a high profile client. Does it really make sense for an E&Y/PwC/BofA/JPM employee to leak the financials to Deadspin on a whim?

The leak has to be from within the commissioner’s office. First of all, someone there has the access to all these records and it is extremely more likely that Deadspin has sources in the commissioner’s office that would be willing to leak the information (especially teams no one gives a shit about). Secondly, we shouldn’t forget that baseball has had its share of squealers. There’s no reason to believe that the whole sport isn’t infested with them.

And as we mentioned – who gives a shit about the Pirates, Mariners or Marlins? These are low payroll teams whose financial information doesn’t cause much of a stir other than the fact that this is first time the data has been available to the public at large. If someone really wanted to bomb the hell out of us, the Yankees, Red Sox and Cubs financial statements would have been leaked and then the disparity (financial and thus, competitiveness) between the teams would really on display.

Baseball Chases Leak of Financial Documents [NYT]
MLB Confidential, Part 2: Seattle Mariners [Deadspin]

Accounting News Roundup: Wells Fargo Comes Out Against FASB Fair Value Proposal; PwC Buying Diamond Management; MLB Teams Financials Leaked | 08.24.10

Wells Fargo “Strongly” Opposes Accounting Board’s New Rules on Loan Value [Bloomberg]
“Wells Fargo & Co., the largest home lender in the U.S., said it disagrees with an accounting board’s plan that would require banks to report the fair value of loans on their books.

‘We strongly oppose the expansion of fair value as the primary balance-sheet measurement attribute for virtually all financial instruments,’ Wells Fargo Controller Richard Levy wrote in the Aug. 19 letter. ‘It will only serve to cement a short-term focus on fair-value measures.’

Wells Fargo is the first of the largest U.S. banks to publish its p writers who named an affiliation, according to the Financial Accounting Standards Board website. The letter was written to officials at the board, which said in May that it may require banks to report the fair value and amortized cost of loans and some other financial instruments on their balance sheets.”

PricewaterhouseCoopers to Buy Consulting Firm Diamond Management [WSJ]
PwC is paying $378 million for Diamond Management & Technology Consultants, “[share]holders will get $12.50 a share, a 31% premium to Monday’s closing price. The stock, up 29% in 2010 through Monday, was last at the bid level three years ago.

‘This is an attractive all cash opportunity for our stockholders, creates exciting prospects for our people, and will provide us new and enhanced capabilities to bring to our clients,’ said Diamond President and Chief Executive Adam Gutstein. ‘There’s a clear strategic fit between PwC’s assets and aspirations and Diamond’s positioning.’ “

Return prudence to accounting [FT]
“What a pity that ultra-theoretical standard-setters around the world have chosen to jettison prudence, a generally accepted accounting convention derived from more than 100 years of experience. This high-risk approach has led to absurdly lengthy and unrealistic annual reports that are now virtually incomprehensible.”

Sex Harassment at Work Gets Weirder, Scarier [Bloomberg]
“Not that I think it’s weird that a brokerage firm chief executive would pin a female clerk on the floor by putting his shoe on her breast (the right one, if you must know), or that some insurance company guy in Fullerton, California, would put a sample of his semen in a female colleague’s water bottle. Twice.

But it did get my attention when I started leafing through this year’s press releases from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and found a case where a supervisor allegedly said that women should outfit themselves in Vaseline, and nothing else; one where a manager in human resources (yes, in human resources) allegedly inquired as to the color of an assistant’s panties; and a case against a company president who the EEOC says pulled a subordinate’s pants down in front of her coworkers.”

Borders CFO resigns for new job [Reuters]
Mark Bierley is moving on after 12 years for a new gig.

Businesses Add iPads to Their Briefcases [WSJ]
“Apple, which said it sold more than three million iPads through the end of June, attributes some of the device’s success to businesses. The Cupertino, Calif., company’s Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook said in July that ‘very surprisingly’ half of the Fortune 100 are testing or deploying iPads.

More than 500 of the 11,000-plus applications built specifically for the iPad are in the business category. A free app from Citrix Systems Inc., which allows people to access internal corporate programs from the iPad, has been downloaded more than 145,000 times.

‘Everyone in IT is jumping on this one,’ said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research. ‘Rather than wait for people to start complaining they’re saying why don’t we get a few of them in and see what they are good for.’ “

MLB Confidential: The Financial Documents Baseball Doesn’t Want You To See, Part 1 [Deadspin]
Deadspin got their hands on financial statements for several Major League Baseball teams and even the lowliest of clubs – namely the Pittsburgh Pirates – make truckloads for their owners: $20.4 million in partner distributions for fiscal year ’08.

The sports rag also has financial statements for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Florida Marlins and L.A. Angels. And as you might expect, people (MLB and the clubs’ people) are not happy.