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On FanGraphs: Sizing Up Mark Cuban as Potential Owner Of The Texas Rangers PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 27 July 2010 11:00

Mark Cuban

Beginning this week, I will begin being a weekly contributor to FanGraphs with articles running each Tuesday. Today, my first piece looks into Mark Cuban as a potential owner of the Texas Rangers. The Rangers, who are mired in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, will most likely be up for auction on Aug. 4. Here’s an excerpt from today’s article:

Determining whether an owner will be good or bad is always a matter for history to decide. Looking to the past to try and predict the future is, at best, a tenuous endeavor. But, when Mark Cuban is one of those possibly in play to own the Rangers, you can assume he’d be something other than the normally placid owners that make up MLB’s ownership lodge at the moment. Cuban makes everyone stand up and notice. On Monday, Cuban’s lawyer Clifton Jessup told the chief restructuring officer in the Rangers case that by today, the Mavericks owner would make a determination as to whether to continue possibly pursuing the purchase of the club.

In other words, much like Cuban in the NBA, you never know what you might get.

See Sizing Up Mark Cuban; Potential Owner Of The Texas Rangers on FanGraphs for the complete story


Maury BrownMaury 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 FanGraphs and Forbes SportsMoney. 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.

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Judge In Texas Rangers Bankruptcy Case Sets Aug. 4 for Auction PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 22 July 2010 12:15

Texas Rangers

THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...

According to Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Lynn has said at bid procedures hearing for the auction of the Texas Rangers that he will uphold an Aug. 4 date for the auction to take place. Creditors for the Rangers, who are mired in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, have argued that the Aug. 4 date does not give bidders outside of the investor group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan enough time to get the requisite funds together.

Also at today's hearing, a lawyer for Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has said that given the right opportunity, he would be interested in purchasing the club. Cuban has made overtures through the media that he may be interested in partnering with other potential bidders, including Greenberg/Ryan. It was also made known at the hearing that Cuban has been approved by MLB for the auction of the club.

To add to the intrigue, it is sounding like Houston businessman Jim Crane may be backing out of the process and may not be at the auction. Crane had been touted for months by the creditors of the Rangers as having a "significantly higher bid" for the club.

EDITOR'S NOTE: MAURY BROWN WILL BE ON ESPN DALLAS RADIO (103.3FM) TO TALK THE LATEST ON THE RANGERS AT 6:15PM CT

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Maury BrownMaury 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.

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Inside the Texas Rangers Bid Procedures Hearing PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 22 July 2010 11:03

Texas Rangers

This morning in a Ft. Worth courtroom, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Lynn could rule on the bid procedures for an open auction for the Texas Rangers. Today marks three days of hearings in which creditors for Hicks Sports Group, the holding company for the Rangers that has fallen $525 million in debt, have admitted that they would rather see the group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan out of the picture completely in the auction, and where Nolan Ryan, who is currently president of the club, said that the bankruptcy case has impacted the ability of the Rangers to make player moves. It’s possible that given all that is in play, a fourth day (Friday) could be added to allow Lynn to make his decisions.

But, today is scheduled to be a key date on the calendar for the often times acrimonious case. While this case has been exceptionally difficult to predict, here’s some topics to consider today:

Does the Greenberg/Ryan Group Drop Out After Aug. 12?

Chuck Greenberg said at the hearing yesterday that investors within his group have said that they are unwilling to extend their funding agreements past the Aug. 12. William Snyder, the chief restructuring officer said yesterday that having the Greenberg/Ryan group in play was beneficial to the auction while creditors have said that the date is arbitrary. It’s likely that the judge will see that the Aug. 12 date is relevant and keep it in mind as he makes his decision and ask….

Will the Aug. 4 Auction Date Stand?

Creditors wanted an open auction, but say that the scheduled date of Aug. 4 doesn’t allow them enough time to get the requisite funding together. Greenberg says that Aug. 12 investors will drop. This case has seen key hearing dates reset so many times, those following the proceedings have likely gotten a case of whiplash. Still it is possible that Judge Lynn could add a few extra days to allow bidders to get in the mix. However, Kevin Cofksy, the managing director of Perella Weinberg who is testifying Thurs. morning said that bidders he is aware of are not put off by the Aug. 4 date. Either way, one should expect the auction to occur on or close to Aug. 4.

How Does the Land Deal Factor In?

There is 154 acres of land around the Ballpark that currently is in play with the Greenberg/Ryan group for $75 million. Greenberg said at Weds.’ hearing that, “We’re not allowed to close on the (team) unless we close on the sale of the land.”

What About the Lease on the Ballpark?

Another factor, be it Greenberg/Ryan, or any other winning bidder is a pending lawsuit by JPMorgan Chase saying that the lease for Rangers Ballpark at Arlington was fraudulently transferred  to the Rangers. No bidder would be interested in purchasing the club without the lease. It would be analogous to purchasing a business and its employees but not having office space to house them. The lease is key, and is likely to surface at today’s hearing.

Is Mark Cuban Serious About Purchasing the Rangers?

Cuban said he was investigating getting into the mix on the Rangers sale, but wouldn’t say definitively. This morning, his lawyer is at the hearing, meaning the Dallas Maverick owner is serious about matters and should be in play at the auction.

How Will MLB’s Ownership Approval Play Into Matters?

Today’s hearing will have MLB’s Constitution and other governing rules as part of the discussion. MLB has seen sales go to bids that were not the highest (the Red Sox), and there have been other leagues that have seen lower bids accepted when other league issues were in play (Phoenix Coyotes and their possible relocation). Lynn has said that not accepting the highest bid would be acting in bad faith, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to consider the implications of league approval. Look for interesting comments from Lynn today on this subject.

Will Dragging the Case Out Really Impact Player Procurement Activities for the Rangers?

Lynn has said that the league loan of $21.5 million should allow the Rangers to function during Chapter 11 proceedings, but let’s look at the calendar… Sal Galatioto, one of the lenders in the Rangers case said on Tuesday that it would take between 70 and 90 days for some bidders to get the needed funding together. At that point, you could then schedule an auction. Once the auction would take place, MLB would have to approve the ownership transfer, which they said could take up to 3 months to discuss, if the winning bidder is not the Greenberg/Ryan group. That could put the ownership issue in limbo until just before Spring Training. The $21.5 million loan by MLB will not be enough to fund the club for that long of a period. If this example were to come to fruition, the Rangers would be hamstrung in the off-season, unless more funding were made available to the club, something MLB would seem to only do begrudgingly at this point.

Has Jim Crane Been Stymied by the Exclusive Arrangement Greenberg/Ryan Has?

Creditors have argued that other bidders, namely Jim Crane, need more time to gain funding as the exclusive agreement for Greenberg/Ryan has stymied his ability to gain the needed funding to make a meaningful bid. Yesterday, on cross examination, Andrew Lablanc asked Chuck Greenberg if he had ever granted permission to Jim Crane to speak with lenders, to which Greenberg replied that he hadn’t because he had been under the assumption that Crane had been in talks with the lenders before and after the Rangers went into bankruptcy. While it is unclear if Crane was involved before Chapter 11, he did sit in on a mediation session with Wiliam Snyder, a sign that the creditors have been working with Crane.

Will the Creditors Really Get More Than What Greenberg/Ryan Had on the Table?

Let’s look back at that timeline above… Interest on the HSG debt is growing at about $4 million a month. At one point, before the Rangers went into involuntary bankruptcy, the sides were roughly $30 million apart. So, since mid-May, interest has grown by around half the $30 million gap, and that does not include the mountain of legal fees being paid out in the case. If the Greenberg/Ryan bid is not the winner and the deal not finalized by Aug. 12, using the timeline outlined, there could be an additional $20 million or more in interest on the debt. Unless the winning bidder is far in excess of the original Greenberg/Ryan offer, the creditors are going to take a bath on the Rangers sale.

What About the Hundreds of Unsecured Creditors?

There are hundreds of small businesses that comprise the unsecured lenders in the Rangers case. These are businesses that have yet to get paid by the club since it went into bankruptcy. The case has already dragged on longer than it should have… going even longer impacts these creditors further.

Is This Going to Be Over When the Auction Is Completed?

Maybe. Expect lawsuits to be filed depending on how this all lands. The creditors, should Greenberg/Ryan win the day, will look for an appeal, but a stay would have to be ordered by Lynn, and that seems very unlikely.

Final Thoughts

In a nutshell there’s not a nutshell big enough to encapsulate the saga that is the Texas Rangers bankruptcy case. So many court documents have been filed (412 to date and climbing for the voluntary bankruptcy case, alone) that we may need to redefine “motion sickness”. Today is but one more day in the saga. The landscape is likely to change again, but what does seem clear is an auction is going to take place, with Lynn doing further tweaks.

Look for updates as they become available

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Maury BrownMaury 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.

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Nolan Ryan Says Texas Rangers in Danger of Losing Josh Hamilton if Stuck in Bankruptcy PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Wednesday, 21 July 2010 13:38

Texas RangersA hearing yesterday to determine whether the bid procedures for the auctioning of the Texas Rangers was just the beginning of what will be 3 days of discussion into the process. Yesterday’s hearing showed that the creditors of the Rangers are willing to see the preferred bidders of Major League Baseball, Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, wither and die after Aug. 12, rather than see them in play in an open auction, and that according to the Lenders, four other bidders outside of the Greenberg/Ryan group are interested in bidding for the team, although it is unknown whether all the groups will be in play should the Aug. 4 auction date stand.

It was also determined yesterday that Rangers manager, Ron Washington, would be called as a witness on Thursday. It is unknown as to what context Washington might add to the business side of the Rangers. Speculating, Washington might be asked if ownership plays any role in his decision making process as a manager, and if the current or any future turmoil in the courts, would impact the Rangers in a stretch run into the playoffs.

Today, Nolan Ryan and Chuck Greenberg are witnesses as the hearing continues.

Ryan said that the bankruptcy of the club is causing the Rangers to lose out on future considerations for the future, such as depleted international scouting. Dainei Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal reports via Twitter that the club is seeing its scouts being poached and that a prolonged bankruptcy court battle could cause the team to lose All-Star Josh Hamilton.

Judge Michael Lynn, who is overseeing the bankruptcy case said to Ryan, "The bankruptcy will not interfere with operations on the field," citing MLB's $21.5 million loan to the club while it is in Chapter 11.

In the first admission of capital improvement costs that the Greenberg/Ryan group wishes to spend on the Ballpark at Arlington, Ryan said that bankruptcy proceeding could stop adding a new videoboard that would cost $5million-$12 million.

In a sign that winning is paying dividends for the bottom line of the Rangers, Ryan testifies that to date, the Rangers are running $5 million ahead in revenues for their 2010 revenue projections, and that the club expects to sell playoff tickets that would total between $11 milliion-$14 million.

Look for updates on today’s hearing as they become available.

In related news, a list of witnesses and exhibits for tomorrow’s hearing has been released by the Rangers, and with it, it is clear that MLB’s ownership approval process will be a large part of the discussion.

Select READ MORE to see the listing of witnesses and exhibits that are scheduled to be part of tomorrow’s hearing.

Read more...
 
Creditors Would Rather Have Greenberg/Ryan Out of Picture on Texas Rangers Sale PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 20 July 2010 11:37

Texas RangersUPDATE #1: Rangers lender Sal Galatioto has sad at today's bankruptcy auction hearing that he is "absolutely" willing to lose Greenberg/Ryan as a bidder adding that it would take 70-90 days to get a new deal in place with other prospective bidders. As a note, this would not include the amount of time that MLB would take to vote whether or not to approve other ownership other than Greenberg/Ryan.


In a Forbes article that I ran yesterday (see Get The Show On The Road With The Texas Rangers Bankruptcy Case), I wrote that an open auction with the group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan in the mix, might not be what the creditors ultimately want.

One could speculate that what is really occurring here is legal maneuverings to kill off the Greenberg/Ryan bid all together; that an open auction really isn’t the end game for the creditors.

The Asset Purchase Agreement – the exclusive agreement between the Rangers and the Greenberg/Ryan group – expires on Aug. 12. It’s possible that one or more of the investors in the group could jump ship at that point, based upon the protracted nature of the bankruptcy case that sees millions of dollars in legal fees being poured into trying to get the case wrapped up, no matter whether you’re the Rangers, the Greenberg/Ryan group, or the creditors. If the Greenberg/Ryan group were to collapse, the creditors would see less return out of the auction, but at this stage, given the heated nature of the legal battle and egos in play, one could say that getting less out of the auction without the Greenberg/Ryan group in play is a victory, of sorts.

That’s no longer speculation.

William Snyder, the chief restructuring officer (CRO), appointed by Judge Michael Lynn in the case, said this morning at an emergency hearing called by the creditors of the Rangers, that the Greenberg/Ryan bid could be lost after Aug. 12 and that he sees the loss of that group from the sales process as a negative effect on the process.

Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Journal/SportsBusiness Daily, who is reporting from the emergency hearing wrote the following via Twitter (expanded beyond 140 characters by author for clarity):

CRO at Texas Rangers auction hearing:"Banks gave me in writing they would run the risk of losing Greenberg rather than go forward with the process."

This is what egos have wrought.

I also wrote that it was very possible that Jim Crane does not have all the capital on hand at the moment to be able to bid if the auction were to occur on Aug. 4:

Indeed, since the end of May, the creditors in the bankruptcy case have said that “there is a higher bid out there.” Surely, if that were the case, this bidder should be ready to go; planning in advance for an open auction for the club they so wish to purchase. After all, it’s not as if the possibility of the auction hasn’t been out there for months now. Now, you’re saying the “Bidding Procedures do not provide sufficient time”? Let’s get on with it.

The creditors all but admitted that at the hearing this morning, as well. Once again, Kaplan, via Twitter:

Rangers lenders would provide bridge financing to Jim Crane to buy team, CRO William Snyder says at auction hearing.

On bidder Jeff Beck, Kaplan reports via Twitter that Snyder said:

Jeff Beck would have a nine-figure equity commitment personally to buy team; would solicit 3rd party financing.

Kaplan further reports that Crane has made a definative agreement to purchase the club, but according to Snyder, might not if the bid process remains as it currently is. Jeff Beck has not made a definative agreement to pursue a purchase of the Rangers at auction.

Look for updates as they become available

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Rangers Ballpark Lease In Limbo After Bank Files Lawsuit Against Hicks Sports Group PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Sunday, 18 July 2010 23:57

Texas RangersMaybe the slogan for the Texas Rangers should be, “Expect the unexpected.”

The latest twist in the sale of the Texas Rangers happened quietly on Friday as J.P. Morgan Chase filed a lawsuit against Hicks Sports Group, the holding company of the Rangers over the handling of the lease agreement. First reported by Barry Shlachter of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, “Chase argues that Hicks Sports Group, the parent of the team, made amendments in 2009 and in May that transferred the city-owned stadium's lease directly to the team without the bank's required consent as part of its loan agreement.”

HSG's maneuver, the suit alleges, would limit to $75 million the amount lenders were guaranteed from a $425 million loan and revolving credit set up by Chase in December 2007. No such limit existed on the lease before the transfer, it claimed. Chase was granted the right to approve lease transfers by HSG in the loan agreement, the bank says.

As the Star-Telegram states, no prospective owner would likely bid on the sale of the Rangers with the lease of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in doubt.

In other Rangers bankruptcy news, a Tues. hearing could determine if the Aug. 4 auction for the sale the Rangers assets is to occur. The Ad Hoc group of first lien lenders have pushed for an open bidding of the Rangers for months, but now say that the Aug. 4 auction date is insufficient time for other bidders to pull together the requisite funds.

More news as it becomes available.

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UPDATE: Judge Grants Emergency Hearing to Reconsider Bid Procedures of Texas Rangers Auction PDF Print E-mail
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Friday, 16 July 2010 00:47

Texas RangersUPDATE #1: Added paragraph dealing with response by Greenberg/Ryan lawyers blasting reconsideration motion.

UPDATE #2: Judge grants hearing for Tuesday, July 20, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. to hear Emergency Joint Motion of Lender Parties for Reconsideration of Court’s Order Adopting Bidding Procedures.


Creditors of the Texas Rangers are seeking an emergency hearing in which they claim the approved bidding procedures for the auction of the Texas Rangers are flawed, and should be reconsidered. The court filing states that, “Discovery has confirmed that the Debtor’s goal in engaging in the Midnight Transfers and filing this bankruptcy case, as stated by Glenn West (then representing multiple Hicks-related entities) to Major League Baseball’s president (among others) in an email.”

The motion adds:

The Bidding Procedures are unfair to the Lender Parties, as they were largely based on the procedures sought by the Debtor and its preferred buyer, (Greenberg/Ryan group), were presented to the Lender Parties and all other parties in interest literally only minutes before they were argued, and were entered without the support of a single word of testimony or single document entered into evidence.

The motion goes on to say that, "The Bidding Procedures serve only the purpose of overlaying the façade of an auction process over a case that has been fundamentally flawed from the beginning.”

The filing states that procedures do not provide sufficient time for potential bidders, such as Jim Crane and Jeff Beck, to be able to participate meaningfully in the sale process and are too skewed to the advantage of Rangers Baseball Express, the group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan – the one party that does not need any added incentive to participate in an auction or any other advantages in the sale process.

The court filing is redacted, thus making critical information surrounding the claimed email, unavailable to the public. In a separate filing, the creditors filed an non-redacted copy of the document, requesting that it remain under court seal, never to be allowed to see the light of day by the public. The “Motion to Allow Lenders Parties to File Under Seal” reads, in part:

[T]he Lender Parties request that the Motion be kept confidential indefinitely. Local District Court Rule 79.4 states that “all sealed documents will be deemed unsealed 60 days after final disposition of a case.” Pursuant to Rule 79.4, the Lender Parties hereby request that the Motion be kept confidential indefinitely and that it not be deemed to be unsealed 60 days after the final disposition of these bankruptcy proceedings.

Early Friday morning, lawyers for the Greenberg/Ryan group blasted the motion in a filing of their own saying, "The Motion for Reconsideration is nothing but a rehash of arguments previously made by the Lender Parties and the Holding Companies, and rejected by the Court, at the hearing on RBE’s request for a temporary restraining order.... For over seven months, RBE has had an agreement to buy the Texas Rangers approximately $500 million. For almost that long the Lender Parties have been saying that there are others who are 'ready, willing and able' to pay more. Talk, however, is cheap; nor does it pay claims against a bankruptcy estate. The time to put up or shut up is here."

Judge Michael Lynn has set an Aug. 4 auction date for the sale of the Rangers. Any qualified bidder wanting to participate in the auction must submit a qualified bid on or before Aug. 3 at 8:00 p.m. (prevailing Central Time).

Bidding at the auction is set to begin with an initial minimum bid that is at least $15,000,000 above the "Stalking Horse Bid" of the Greenberg/Ryan group, which is currently $306.7 million in cash. Bids after that shall subsequently continue in $2,000,000 minimum overbid increments.

The auction does not include a land transaction for approx. 154 acres around Rangers Ballpark at Arlington valued at $75 million reached by the Greenberg/Ryan group.

Any winning bid would need approval from 75 percent of MLB’s owners. The league has backed the Greenberg/Ryan group for months. In the past, MLB has said that the highest bid does not always mean the best owners for the make-up of the ownership brethren of the league. Judge Lynn said that he can determine whether the league acted in good faith in the process, should higher bidder win the auction but be rejected over the Greenberg/Ryan group by MLB's owners.

More news as it becomes available.

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Judge Sets Aug 4 Auction Date for Texas Rangers PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 14 July 2010 12:16

Texas RangersIn a landscape that seems to shift almost daily, an auction hearing and auction date for the sale of the Texas Rangers was moved at a hearing yesterday from July 22 to Aug. 4, something that lawyers for the Rangers and creditors of the bankrupt club were both unhappy with. The creditors for the Rangers claimed it would not give enough time for potential bidders to garner needed funding, while lawyers for the Greenberg-Ryan group said they wanted the date set well before the expiration of the Asset Purchase Agreement the investor group has on Aug 12.

The other bidders believed to be in the mix for the auction include Houston businessman Jim Crane, and a group led by Dennis Gilbert and Dallas investor Jeff Beck. Crane and Gilbert were both approved by MLB before Greenberg/Ryan were selected as exclusive bidders. As part of the argument by the creditors that the Aug. 4 auction date is too soon, under the bid procedure, any new investors, such as the rumored addition of Mark Cuban to the Gilbert/Beck group would have to be approved by the league before being considered as part of any bid package.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael Lynn set the tone at the hearing by saying, "We're going to get this process on the road. I know this doesn't make all of us happy. But if that's so, I've done something right in this case."

The hearing also saw Judge Lynn accept the most recent motion for bid procedures in the auction. In a victory for the Greenberg/Ryan group, their enhanced bid that now sees $306.7 million in cash and removal of a controversial charter aircraft lease, allowed Lynn to say that their new bid would be the starting point for bidding. Under the auction rules, the Greenberg/Ryan group’s bid then becomes a “stalking horse” where bidding much now by at least $15 million higher than the $306.7 million bid by Greenberg/Ryan. The auction process would then see bids after that increase in increments of $2 million. The auction does not include the approx. $75 million transaction that encompasses 154 acres of land around the Ballpark. Lenders for Hicks Sports Group, the holding company for the Rangers, which defaulted on $525 million in loans, do not have a lien on that land, and subsequently, is not part of the bankruptcy proceedings. With the land deal in play, the Greenberg/Ryan bid is now over $580 million.

(READ THE NEW MOTION FOR BID PROCEDURES)

The hearing, set just 3 weeks from today, would determine whether there are accepted bids for the purchase of the club beyond the Greenberg/Ryan group. Based on the concerns by the creditors, it is possible that rival bidders may not be able to gain completed funding by the date. If no other approved bids step forward at the hearing, the sale would default to Greenberg/Ryan.

If, through the process, a bidder other than Greenberg/Ryan were to win at auction, the group would need approval from 75 percent of MLB’s owners. The league has backed the Greenberg/Ryan group for months. In the past, MLB has said that the highest bid does not always mean the best owners for the make-up of the ownership brethren of the league. Indeed, the league sold the Boston Red Sox to the John Henry group with a lower bid offer than both Miles Prentice and Charles Dolan. Lynn said that he can determine whether the league acted in good faith in the process.

If the Greenberg/Ryan group were to lose out in the auction and MLB approval process, Judge Lynn said that he accepted a $15 million “break-up fee” should go to investor group for costs associated expenses. The figure is approx. 3 percent of the bid offer’s value.

Chuck Greenberg, who was at attendance during All-Star Game festivities in Anaheim, declined comment citing the court’s request that no one discuss court proceedings.

More news as it becomes available.

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Rangers, Greenberg/Ryan Work in Tandem to Release New Bid Procedures for Sale of Club PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 13 July 2010 11:21

Texas RangersOne of the many topics circulating around the halls of the Marriott and Hilton hotels where All-Star Game media and MLB execs are sequestered in Anaheim, was the announcement yesterday that the prospective ownership group of the Texas Rangers led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan are suing the Rangers for breach of the Asset Purchase Agreement (APA) forged between the Rangers and the group on May 23. The “adversarial” filing also claims William Snyder, the Chief Restructuring Officer appointed by Judge Michael Lynn in the case, over stepped his scope by introducing other bidders into the mix.

“The CRO does not, and never had, any authority to solicit alternative bids or negotiate with prospective bidders. Notwithstanding his limited authority as expressly circumscribed by the Court, the CRO is attempting to seize control of this Bankruptcy Case by inducing the Debtor to withdraw the Bidding Procedures Motion and shopping the Debtor’s assets,” the filing said.

Today, the other pieces of this move, have dropped into place.

First, Daniel Kaplan of the SportsBusiness Daily reports that The Rangers do not plan to contest the lawsuit brought by Greenberg and Ryan.

“The (team) has apparently consented to a form of temporary restraining order that would preclude the (team) from soliciting alternative bids to the proposal set forth in the (sale agreement) until the confirmation hearings commence on July 22, 2010 concerning the (sale),” the CRO’s lawyers contended. “Given the apparent alignment of interests between the (team) and (Greenberg and Ryan) and (the team’s) apparent willingness to agree to the temporary restraining order, it is clear that the parties to the complaint cannot, and will not, adequately represent Ranger Equity’s interests in this lawsuit.”

New Bid MotionSecondly, the Rangers have just filed a second motion to establish procedures of an open auction scheduled for July 22, 2010, at 9:30 a.m. (CT) for the Rangers. The new motion reads, in part:

Under the amended terms of the Asset Purchase Agreement, the (Greenberg/Ryan group)  has improved its overall bid for the (Rangers) Assets by $2.7 million to $306.7 million. In addition, the Purchaser has agreed to reduce the amount held in escrow following the transfer of the (Rangers)  Assets from $30 million to between $10 million and $12 million, depending on the Closing Date (as defined in the Asset Purchase Agreement). The (Greenberg/Ryan group) also agreed to modify section (part of) the Asset Purchase Agreement such that these bidding procedures could take affect.

In addition, (Hicks Sports Group) has agreed that its certain Shared Charter Services Agreement for use of the charter airplane is terminable at the end of the current baseball season without penalty. These three heavily negotiated compromises, representing concessions from both the (Greenberg/Ryan group) and the ultimate parent of (the Rangers), greatly enhance the attractiveness of the overall bid and evidence a willingness by all sides to provide additional value to the Debtor’s Creditors.

The new motion goes on to say that the auction should still take place with the Greenberg/Ryan group, yet again, willing to waive their exclusivity agreement while using the improved Asset Purchase Agreement as a stalking horse bid, and still include the $15 million “break-up fee”, should the Greenberg.Ryan group not successfully be approved for ownership, something that Snyder initially agreed to, but later rejected.

(READ THE NEW MOTION FOR BID PROCEDURES)

The new motion also includes MLB’s ownership approval process saying:

At the Confirmation Hearing, the Debtor will seek an order confirming its plan pursuant to section 1129 of the Bankruptcy Code (the “Confirmation Order”) approving (i) the Debtor’s plan of reorganization and (i) a sale of the TRBP Assets pursuant to the Asset Purchase Agreement to either the Selected Bidder or the Backup Bidder (if applicable), that is determined by the Debtor to have submitted the highest and best bid and the second highest and best bid, respectively, (iii) that such sale be consummated only upon and after the approval of a sale to such person(s) by Major League Baseball in accordance with the Major League Constitution, the MLB Ownership Control Guidelines, and such other applicable rules and regulations of Major League Baseball.

MLB’s rules require 75 percent of the 30 owners to agree to ownership transfer. The league has repeatedly said that they support the Greenberg/Ryan group, but a report in Monday’s edition of the SportsBusiness Journal mentions that there could be a warming between prospective bidder, Jim Crane, and MLB after Crane backed out of the purchase of the Houston Astros several years ago at the 11th hour.

It is unknown whether Snyder will approve the latest bid motion after his initial acceptance of the last version, before then rejecting it the following day.

More news as it becomes available.

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Texas Rangers Auction on Hold as CRO Rejects Motion PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 09 July 2010 10:38

Texas RangersCommissioner Bud Selig said that the sale process of the Texas Rangers was “long and winding road”. Yet another turn has been added to it.

William Snyder, the court appointed Chief Restructuring Officer (CRO) in the Rangers bankruptcy case, rejected a motion filed by Texas Rangers Baseball Partners that would have opened up the club for auction, while saying that with adjustments, an auction should still occur. The notice by the CRO reads:

The CRO approved the Motion before it was filed and supported the Motion at the time it was filed. Based on changes in facts and circumstances since the filing of the Motion, however, the CRO has concluded that the Motion is no longer in the best interests of the Equity Debtors and that, therefore, he can no longer support the Motion The CRO has informed the Debtor of this and requested that the Debtor withdraw the Motion. The CRO understands that the Motion will be withdrawn pursuant to his request. The CRO believes that a sale process still is in the best interests of the Debtors and the Debtors Equity; however, on terms other than those which the Motion sought approval by this Court. The CRO expects to finalize new bid procedures shortly and expects that they will be presented to the Court for expedited approval.

The July 9 hearing that was set to occur before Judge Michael Lynn where procedures for the sale, “stalking horse” status for the Greenberg/Ryan group, and approval of the payment for a $15 million “Break-Up Fee” that would go to that group, should it not be selected, was cancelled by TRBP and changed to status conference.

In today’s edition of the SportsBusiness Daily, Daniel Kaplan reports:

The creditors opposed the team’s motion for three principal reasons, a well-placed source said: It would have given MLB, not the court, final choice of the winner; it gave the Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan group the right to review other bidders’ finances; and it would give Greenberg a $15M breakup fee. Apparently the CRO agreed in part with at least some of these objections. The well-placed source said the hope was still to have an auction sometime within the next two weeks.

When asked earlier this week of how the motion that has now been pulled allowed for MLB to approve the final bidder, regardless of whether it was the highest, or not. Commissioner Selig backed the league's right to select its owners.

“Let me make this clear, baseball has always had the right to select their ownership,” Selig said on Tuesday. “There’s a long history of that that predates my entry into baseball in the 1970. So, I’m very, very comfortable in telling you that, yes, I was pleased [in the CRO’s advisement that MLB can ultimately approve the owners of the Rangers]. But there’s no doubt in my mind that we have the right to select ownership, and will do that.”

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More news as it becomes available.

 
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