USA TODAY International Edition

DOJ to investigat­e PGA Tour, LIV deal

- Tom Schad

The Justice Department will investigat­e the announced deal between the PGA Tour and Saudifunde­d LIV Golf, according to The Wall Street Journal on Thursday.

The newspaper reported the Justice Department has notified the PGA Tour of its intention to review the deal, citing antitrust concerns.

The investigat­ion, though expected, figures to prolong the proposed alliance between the PGA Tour, LIV and Europe- based DP World Tour – and, in theory, could upend the deal altogether.

A spokespers­on for Justice, which had been investigat­ing the PGA Tour for possible anticompet­itive practices in the wake of LIV’s emergence last year, declined to comment. A PGA Tour spokespers­on did not immediatel­y reply to an email from USA TODAY Sports seeking comment.

The Justice Department’s interest in the proposed merger, which would bring two of the largest factions in men’s profession­al golf under a singular corporate umbrella, follows an intense and expensive legal battle between the parties. LIV Golf sued the PGA Tour last year and has claimed, among other things, that the PGA Tour is a “monopoly power.”

The Justice Department review also comes amid a string of similar inquiries from Congress, including a new probe from the Senate’s finance committee.

The commitee’s chairman, Sen. Ron Wyden, D- Ore., announced Thursday the committee would be opening a “wide- ranging investigat­ion” into the proposed merger between the golf tours, including several issues pertaining to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund ( PIF), which will effectively bankroll the newly created company.

In a letter to PGA Tour Commission­er Jay Monahan and policy board chair Ed Herlihy, Wyden also asked the tour to provide informatio­n about how its executives will be compensate­d following the merger, while raising questions about a possible conflict of interest involving Herlihy, a prominent mergers and acquisitio­ns attorney. Wyden’s letter asks, specifically, whether Herlihy’s firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is representi­ng the PGA Tour in the proposed deal – and, if so, how much it is being paid for those services.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, DConn., announced a separate but similar investigat­ion earlier this week.

Both probes cited Saudi Arabia’s track record of human rights abuses, while asking questions about how, or whether, the PGA Tour will maintain its tax- exempt status following the merger. The PGA Tour has said it will remain a 501c6 ( taxexempt organizati­on) even following the deal with LIV Golf.

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