ITT Corp., owner of Madison Square Garden, continued its "ambitious restructuring" as the company began its drive to convert $3.4B in bonds of ITT Financial Corp, into corporate bonds. ITT is in the "midst of remaking itself from a conglomerate into a company focused on insurance, manufacturing, lodging and entertainment." Part of the restructuring includes the agreement to buy Caesars World, Inc. and Madison Square Garden, and some analysts "expect the company to split up into three separate companies within two years" (Eben Shapiro, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/12).
Steve Story, spokesperson for the three-man trust in charge of selling the team, said he is "optimistic" that the Bucs will not move, and that the trust is "trying to structure the transaction" to keep the team in town. This comes as the trust is considering three offers for the franchise from out-of-town groups, "each with a connection to Baltimore" (Henderson & Pugliese, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/12). Story said the trust was "trying to encourage" that the team remain in Tampa, but warned that in a deal of this magnitude "you lose some of that control." Story admitted he had "heard rumors" that a offer was forthcoming from Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, although he admitted "it is getting more difficult each day for anyone else to jump in." Steinbrenner would not make a comment on an offer, only to say "other people should not be talking for me" (Stroud & Testerman, ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/12). Yesterday, the trust met with Baltimore attorney Robert Schulman and Jacksonville attorney Terry Moore, who represent a group with a reported $190M offer. Speculation continues the trust will keep the team for a year, although Story "hopes a deal is imminent" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 1/12).