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Volume 24 No. 156

Franchises

     ITT Corp., owner of Madison Square Garden, continued its
"ambitious restructuring" as the company began its drive to
convert $3.4B in bonds of ITT Financial Corp, into corporate
bonds.  ITT is in the "midst of remaking itself from a
conglomerate into a company focused on insurance, manufacturing,
lodging and entertainment."  Part of the restructuring includes
the agreement to buy Caesars World, Inc. and Madison Square
Garden, and some analysts "expect the company to split up into
three separate companies within two years" (Eben Shapiro, WALL
STREET JOURNAL, 1/12).

     Steve Story, spokesperson for the three-man trust in charge
of selling the team, said he is "optimistic" that the Bucs will
not move, and that the trust is "trying to structure the
transaction" to keep the team in town.  This comes as the trust
is considering three offers for the franchise from out-of-town
groups, "each with a connection to Baltimore" (Henderson &
Pugliese, TAMPA TRIBUNE, 1/12).  Story said the trust was "trying
to encourage" that the team remain in Tampa, but warned that in a
deal of this magnitude "you lose some of that control."  Story
admitted he had "heard rumors" that a offer was forthcoming from
Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, although he admitted "it is
getting more difficult each day for anyone else to jump in."
Steinbrenner would not make a comment on an offer, only to say
"other people should not be talking for me" (Stroud & Testerman,
ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, 1/12).   Yesterday, the trust met with
Baltimore attorney Robert Schulman and Jacksonville attorney
Terry Moore, who represent a group with a reported $190M offer.
Speculation continues the trust will keep the team for a year,
although Story "hopes a deal is imminent" (Jon Morgan, Baltimore
SUN, 1/12).