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Over the last week, ITT sold part of its financial services group to facilitate a move into the entertainment and gaming field. First, ITT sold Commerical Finance -- a division of its Financial Corp that makes business loans -- for a reported $2.3B to Deutsch Bank's North American unit. The next day, ITT made its second billion dollar deal when it sold its Island Finance consumer loan unit for $1.4B to Norwest Corp. A third deal could raise an additional $1.8B (Eric Randall, USA TODAY, 12/28). News of the moves by ITT raised stock shares by 4 3/8 to 88 1/8. ITT said it hopes to use the revenue from the sales to "help pay off its $3.4B in debt" from their recent deals for Madison Square Garden and Caesars World (N.Y. POST, 12/28).
One day after saying the trust could wait a year before selling the Bucs, the team received its first verbal offer. A group led by former University of Florida QB Tommy Shannon, which includes Outback Steakhouse execs Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan, made a "confidential" offer to keep the team in Tampa. The group will confirm its offer in writing and said the proposal will be valid until January 9. Bucs Trustee Steve Story called the offer "worthy of careful consideration. Clearly we are happy to see a local group come forward with a meaningful offer" (Charean Williams, ORLANDO SENTINEL, 12/28). Story had reported that if the trust did not receive the "right price" for the team, they would "retain" the franchise for next year (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 12/27). Representatives for Orioles Owner Peter Angelos met with the Bucs trust last week, and Story expects an offer from Angelos at some point in the coming weeks (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 12/28). Angelos said he was "trying to turn a new page in the strained relationship" between Baltimore and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Among other bidders, Florida investor Malcom Glazer said he may submit a bid next week (Jon Morgan, Baltimore SUN, 12/29). Morgan also reported on the "web of litigation" that could hinder Angelos' effort. It would be costly for Angelos to test the league in a lawsuit, and "the process could involve years of messy litigation during which the fitness of the league, Angelos, Tampa, and Baltimore would be on trial" (Baltimore SUN, 12/25).
In the wake of Dom Capers' agreement to become the Panthers' first head coach, team officials will meet today in New York with NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to address allegations that they breached league anti-tampering policies in their "courtship" of the Steelers Defensive Coordinator. The team interviewed Capers for the job last Tuesday, but the interview took place without the permission or prior knowledge of Steelers President Dan Rooney. Panthers GM Bill Polian had gained permission from Steelers coach Bill Cowher. NFL Dir of Communications Greg Aiello confirmed the Panthers could be fined a minimum of $100,000 and/or forced to forfeit draft choices if Tagliabue rules that the team violated league rules. "Privately, Panthers officials concede that they thumbed their noses at the rules because they felt they could get away with the illegal contact" (Len Pasquarelli, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 1/3).
Rams President John Shaw said last week that negotiations with the city of St. Louis have reached a point "where somebody is going to have to give." Shaw dismissed reports that a deal with St. Louis was imminent, and said there was no guarantee a deal would be reached. He mentioned 16 major differences have been narrowed down to three, but that the two parties are "still negotiating." Shaw: "There are still three large issues unresolved ... We are also talking to other people about minority ownership." The issues yet to be finalized include guarantees on permanent-seat license sales, guarantees on club seats and luxury-box sales, and the location of the proposed practice facility. Shaw mentioned that MO-based businessman Stan Kroenke "remains the Rams' first preference for minority ownership," but that there have been no recent discussions. The permanent-seat licensing program is "critical to the deal" because St. Louis hopes to raise at least $60M through it to cover the cost of the move. Any team wishing to move for '95 must notify the league at least 30 days before the owners' meetings in March (T.J. Simers, L.A. TIMES, 12/30). RICH RAMS? An analysis of the negotiations between St. Louis and the Rams shows that a move to St. Louis would move the Rams "from the NFL's poorhouse to its financial elite." According to projections by the L.A. TIMES, the team would make an estimated $20.7M in pretax profit during its first full season in St. Louis -- highest in the NFL. A combination of gate receipts, stadium and TV revenue, and licensing/merchandise revenue would add up to $82.7M, putting the Rams at 2nd in the NFL in total revenue behind the Cowboys (Mike DiGiovanna, L.A. TIMES, 12/24).