SBD/19/Franchises

PIRATES HIRE INVESTMENT FIRM TO PUSH THROUGH SALE

     The Pirates have hired an investment banking firm to sell
the team.  According to the AP, the team has grown "impatient
with the lack of a firm offer" from prospective buyer and
Adelphia Communications Owner John Rigas.  The firm of Wertheim
Schroeder has been hired to handle the sale (AP/USA TODAY, 1/19).
The firm, which recently negotiated the sale of the Padres, will
conduct all aspects of the sale, including future talks with the
Rigas family.  Under terms of a previous agreement, if Rigas does
not complete the sale by January 29, the Pirates ownership group
can sell the team to another buyer, including out of town
interests.  Pirates Chair Vincent Sarni: "Despite repeated
request of the Rigas by current ownership, no proposal has been
made to date."  Rigas has not yet received approval by MLB to
begin negotiating with the team, although he was authorized to
submit a proposal.  Rigas has made an informal offer of $80M,
including $60M in debt assumption.  Sarni: "The Rigas family has
suggested some elements of a proposal, but those elements are
quite incomplete" (Pirates).
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