October 15, 2009 / 3:46 PM / in 8 years

Bidders for MLB Rangers to meet with management

<p>Texas Rangers Elvis Andrus (R) slaps hands with Rangers teammate Marlon Byrd (L) after hitting a two run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the fifth inning of American League MLB baseball action in Arlington, Texas September 2, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi</p>

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The groups interested in buying the Texas Rangers will meet with the Major League Baseball team’s management next week as they prepare bids, according to three sources familiar with the process.

The goal is to have a winner identified by late November and a sale completed by year end, said the sources, who asked not to be identified discussing the ongoing process. The Rangers are expected to attract bids of $500 million to $550 million, analysts have said.

The timeline is not set in stone, however, as Rangers owner and Texas billionaire Tom Hicks works to satisfy creditors who in April declared his sports group in default on $525 million in loans. Hicks Sports Group also owns the Dallas Stars hockey team, while Hicks separately owns half of the English Premier League’s Liverpool soccer club.

“The process all along has been fairly fluid,” one of the sources said of the Rangers sale.

A Rangers spokesman declined to comment.

Baseball officials want the sale process completed quickly, the sources said. Earlier this year, the U.S. sports league loaned the Rangers money to cover operational costs.

Potential buyers of the Rangers include Jim Crane, a Houston businessman who runs his own freight-forwarding company; Chuck Greenberg, a minor league baseball team owner and sports attorney; and Dennis Gilbert, whose sports agency once represented baseball home run king Barry Bonds.

Greenberg’s group includes current Rangers president and Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. Gilbert is a special assistant to the owner of the Chicago White Sox, while Crane earlier this year bid for the Chicago Cubs, which bankrupt media company Tribune Co is about to sell for $845 million.

A fourth unidentified group has been approved by baseball officials to view the Rangers finances, but sources said that group is not viewed as seriously as the others.

Reporting by Ben Klayman, editing by Matthew Lewis

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