SBJ/June 19 - 25, 2000/Finance

Preds call off deal to buy teams

After watching the price of its stock fall, officials at Orlando Predators Entertainment Inc. will abandon their efforts to buy three minor league hockey teams and a minor league baseball team.

Last year, the parent company of the Arena Football League's Orlando Predators reached an agreement in principle to buy United Sports Ventures Inc., which owns the Quad City Mallards, Missouri River Otters and Rockford Ice Hogs of the United Hockey League and the Mobile BayBears, a Class AA affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Financial terms of the deal to buy United Ventures were not disclosed but included shares in the company stock.

But in the past month, the price of the company's stock, which trades on the small cap Nasdaq market, has fallen to about $1 a share from $5 a share, causing officials to rethink their intended acquisition.

Orlando Entertainment may come back to the table in the future to buy United Ventures.

"We still believe there is tremendous synergy between the two companies," said Orlando Entertainment Chief Executive Officer Eric Margenau. "We hope to complete the deal sometime in the future when the dilution is more favorable to shareholders."

In addition to owning the Predators, the company owns 8 percent of the Arena Football League and a telemarketing division that specializes in selling season tickets for other professional sports franchises.

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