SBD/Issue 131/Franchises

Hicks Seeking To Add Stars, Rangers Investors Due To Economy

Hicks (r) Willing To Give Up 49% Of Both Stars
And Rangers To Limited Owners
Stars and MLB Rangers Owner Tom Hicks yesterday confirmed that he is "seeking investors" in the two teams and said that it is "good business in a difficult economy," according to Jeff Wilson of the FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM. Hicks said that he "owns 95[%] of both teams," but he is "willing to let up to 49[%] of each club be owned by limited partners, allowing him to keep majority ownership." Hicks "anticipates owning [51-60%] when the process ends," and he said that he will "limit investors to one franchise or the other." Hicks: "I'm looking quietly, and have been for the last four or five months, for minority investors to come back into the Rangers at the new value of the club as a way to be prudent about the economy. It doesn't really change anything. ... It's not a big deal at all. I don't think I need to own 95[%] of any team. In times like these, you like to reduce your debt and diversify your investments." Meanwhile, Wilson notes if Hicks "has his way," Rangers President Nolan Ryan "will expand his role ... to minority owner" with the team. Hicks: "That's part of this process. I want to find a way to get Nolan more involved. I hope so" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/26). In Ft. Worth, Jennifer Floyd Engel writes under the header, "Tom Hicks Has A Little Money Problem, But Don't We All." Hicks is "not broke, or struggling financially," his money is "just tied up in stuff." Hicks also is "facing a July deadline to refinance or repay his half" of a refinancing loan he arranged with EPL club Liverpool co-Owner George Gillett (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/26).

INTERNAL REVIEW: Gillett, who made a presentation at Sportaccord yesterday in Denver, said that his company, Booth Creek Management Corp., had engaged six advisors in three countries to "look at various options and opportunities" as the company does some "standard" estate planning. He said he was not looking to sell the Canadiens or Liverpool right now. Gillett added, "It's no big deal. I just turned 70 and it's standard stuff that a person does at my age." He said that the estate planning had nothing to do with leverage or the success of the clubs (Tripp Mickle, SportsBusiness Journal). Gillett, who "spoke about the global state of sports" at the conference, said that he "refused to dignify questions about reports that he is reviewing his assets or may sell, calling them inaccurate." Gillett: "We were doing some estate planning and doing a review. Estate planning is private and as off the record as you can get. I find this impolite and offensive." Gillett added that it is "unlikely there will be any sale of assets, but there may be recapitalizations or new partnerships." Gillett: "I know it affects assets we all know and love, but these businesses are in great financial shape" (DENVER POST, 3/26).

GAMES OF STATE: The Parti Quebecois (PQ) said that the "time has come to bring ownership of the Montreal Canadiens back to Quebec." The GLOBE & MAIL's Rheal Seguin writes "what better way to do it then to get" the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, which manages public pension plans, "in on the act." The PQ "contends that nationalist aspirations should inspire the Caisse to help Quebec entrepreneurs" buy the Canadiens, and the PQ also argued that the Caisse "lost close to [C$40B] last year and this could be a way to win back some of those losses." Seguin notes PQ leader Pauline Marois is "convinced that buying the team makes good business sense" (GLOBE & MAIL, 3/26). Meanwhile, Quebec Premier Jean Charest said that there is "no danger the Habs will leave Montreal." Charest: "The Canadiens are going to stay in Montreal" (Montreal GAZETTE, 3/26). 

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