Sports News

Rangers owner has 6 offers for baseball team: sources

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Texas billionaire and sports tycoon Tom Hicks has received six initial offers for his Texas Rangers baseball team as he works to satisfy creditors who have declared his sports group in default, two sources familiar with the process said on Wednesday.

Josh Edmiston, 5, (L) hands a ball to Texas Rangers starting pitcher Dustin Nippert (R) on the pitcher's mound before the start of American League MLB baseball action against the Boston Red Sox in Arlington, Texas August 16, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Other indications of interest could be submitted as the deadline is not until September 8, said one of the sources, who asked not to be named because the process is still under way.

Bids of around $550 million are likely for the team, sports bankers and baseball officials previously said.

A spokesman for the Hicks Sports Group declined to comment.

The sale will not close before the baseball season ends in October, said the second source, who also asked not to be identified.

Hicks said in May he was willing to sell control of the Major League Baseball team, which is battling to qualify for the postseason.

In April, 40 creditors -- banks and institutional investors -- declared Hicks Sports Group, which owns the Rangers and Dallas Stars hockey team, in default on $525 million of loans after Hicks withheld a quarterly interest payment.

There have been media reports, denied by the club, that Major League Baseball has been forced to loan the Rangers money to cover operations.

The six indications of interest for the Rangers vary in whether and how big a stake Hicks would retain in the team, the sources said. Merrill Lynch and Joseph Ravitch, a former Goldman Sachs media banker who formed his own firm, are advising Hicks on the sale.

Hicks also owns half of the English Premier League’s Liverpool Football Club, which is held separately from Hicks Sports Group.

Sports leagues and teams have been hit by the recession as fans cut spending on games and concessions, and companies reduce outlays on pricey suites and sponsorships.

In another baseball sale, media company Media Tribune Co said last month it had reached a deal to sell the Chicago Cubs and other assets to the Ricketts family for $845 million. Before the recession hit, analysts had expected bids to top $1 billion.

The Cubs deal still needs approval from Major League Baseball owners and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware, which oversees Tribune’s bankruptcy.

Rumors also are swirling around the New York Mets, which are owned by a family that lost millions of dollars in the Bernard Madoff swindle.

Erin Arvedlund, author of “Too Good to Be True,” a book published last month about the disgraced money manager, said last week that the Wilpons would be forced to sell the team due to losses totaling about $700 million.

Madoff pleaded guilty earlier this year to running the biggest investment fraud in Wall Street’s history, which prosecutors said bilked investors out of as much as $65 billion.

The Mets called Arvedlund’s speculation false and said the author has no knowledge of the baseball team or its finances, repeating previous statements that the club is not for sale.

Editing by Steve Orlofsky