SBD/Issue 124/Franchises

MLB Rangers Sale At Impasse, Unlikely To Be Done By Opening Day


Talks between the MLB Rangers and the team's creditors are at an impasse, sources said, all but ending any chance of the sale of the team closing by Opening Day. The owner of the Rangers, Hicks Sports Group, defaulted on $525M of debt last March, and agreed to sell the team to a group led by Chuck Greenberg two months ago. But creditors have been balking at the terms of the deal because of the $570M purchase price, only $230M of which is pledged to the lenders. The creditors, who must approve the sale, and MLB, which is acting as an intermediary between Hicks and his lenders, held a conference call last Friday that went very poorly, the sources said. The creditors are seeking a minimum $300M of the proceeds. “They have been at an impasse for weeks if not longer,” one source said. “Baseball has been deluding itself. No idea how long it can go.” MLB declined to comment. How much longer the situation can drag on is unclear, with one source saying in a few weeks the team could be forced into bankruptcy protection. That could be through a filing in Texas by the team, or perhaps an involuntary filing by the creditors. Greenberg's spokesperson, Kevin Sullivan, had no further comment on the most recent developments. A spokesperson for Hicks had no immediate comment. Hicks Sports Group also owns the Stars, who are also for sale (Daniel Kaplan, SportsBusiness Journal).

DOWNPLAYING CONCERNS: Greenberg said the sale process is "going smoothly." Greenberg: "It's obviously a very complicated transaction. Any deal of any size there are always complexities and matters that have to be solved right up to the moment of being done. So far, nothing remarkable has happened or failed to happen." Greenberg added the closing day of any deal is "always somewhat uncertain, because you can't legislate when exactly all of the pieces are going to fall into place and all you can do is to keep pushing along a timetable that allows you to achieve your objective." Greenberg: "Is everything done today where we can close tomorrow? No. But is everything moving on a pace that needs to in order to close on April 1? Yes. We think we will get there." Greenberg added of reports of problems with the sale, "I think there are some folks out there that have a little bit of self-interest in portraying gloom and doom, none of whom are principals in the deal, by the way." Greenberg said if the sale is not complete by Opening Day, it "doesn't mean there are problems and doesn't mean that the (hand-wringing) was ever correct." Greenberg: "It just means that sometimes deals take longer than you originally anticipate. But it's no reason for alarm on anyone's part, and we're expecting to close on April 1" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 3/11).

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