UPDATE #2: Adds statement by Texas Rangers Baseball Partners
UPDATE #1: Paragraph added regarding mediation. Paragraph added to address non-comments.
THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...
The bankruptcy judge in the voluntary bankruptcy case of the Texas Rangers may have dealt a blow to the prospective ownership group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan by ruling that secured creditors of the Texas Rangers are “impaired” and therefore are allowed to vote whether to accept or reject a “prepackaged plan” designed by the Rangers to exit the club from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and complete the sale. The creditors have said repeatedly that they would reject the prepackaged plan.
In his opinion U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Lynn wrote, “Even if the Plan had not been modified, the court could not agree with Debtor. Under the Partnership Agreement, Debtor’s governing document, sale of the Rangers is a “major decision.” Partnership Agreement § 4.3(b). A major decision cannot be taken except with approval of a majority of the partners.”
Lynn added in his conclusion,” The court will not direct any changes to the Plan. However, unless the treatment of the Lenders is modified, the Plan (as modified to date) will not be confirmable absent acceptance by the Lenders, the only class of creditors that is impaired under the present iteration of the Plan. See Code § 1129(a)(10). If the Plan is modified to conform the Lenders’ treatment to Code § 1124(1), as construed in this memorandum opinion, the Plan will be confirmable if it meets the other requirements of section 1129(a) and is accepted in its modified form by the Rangers Equity Owners.”
On the face of the ruling, it is seen as a victory for the creditors. Said source close to creditors to Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal, "This is great news… means plan is not confirmable."
However, lawyers for Texas Rangers Baseball Partners were closely examining the complex ruling to see if that may not be the case.
Shortly after the ruling, TRBP released a statement saying, “We are pleased that the Judge remains committed to completing the sale of the Rangers expeditiously and we are confident that necessary changes to the plan can be made to achieve that outcome.”
The next step in the process is mostly likely mediation. The Lenders and Rangers Baseball Express, LLC, the group led by Greenberg and Ryan have agreed to continued mediation. In Lynn's rulling it is noted that the court has appointed Russell F. Nelms to serve as mediator.
At the minimum, the ruling seems destine to derail any key player moves by the Rangers by the trade deadline. Rumors have swirled that either Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee could be in the plans for the Rangers, should the prepackaged plan have been given the green light.
As of publication, Major League Baseball had not determined whether to release a statement. The Greenberg/Ryan group was still taking stock of the ruling and declined comment for the moment, as well.
READ THE 28 PAGE OPINION FROM JUDGE LYNN
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
Follow Maury Brown on Twitter
Follow The Biz of Baseball on Twitter
Follow the Business of Sports Network on Facebook