Potential Rangers buyer waives right
The investment group headed by Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan has agreed to re-open the bidding for the club under negotiated parameters.
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The agreement, subject to bankruptcy court approval, would give potential purchasers for the club a chance to submit a bid by July 16. Should a qualified ownership group make a bid, an auction would occur that afternoon. Greenberg said in a release that his hope is that the sale process would be finalized in late July or early August.
But to submit a bid, potential buyers must meet several requirements as negotiated by the Greenberg-Ryan group and William Snyder, the court-appointed chief restructuring officer for the team's parent holding companies.
Selling the team to the Greenberg-Ryan group and paying creditors $75 million was part of the Rangers' bankruptcy plan when it filed for Chapter 11 protection in May, but creditors have opposed that plan.
"It became clear ... following discussions with the [court-appointed chief restructuring officer] that [he] would be more likely to support and vote to approve the prepackaged plan following an auction process," Rangers' attorneys said in the motion. "The [team] understands that a competitive bidding process is the preferred method of the lenders."
The Greenberg-Ryan group, Rangers Baseball Express, agreed to several stipulations in exchange for waiving their exclusive right to purchase the team and test their $575 million transaction (which includes the team plus real estate around Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) on the open market, as the documents filed in court show.
The group receives a $15 million break-up fee, and any potential bid must start at least $20 million above what Rangers Baseball Express negotiated for the team (the bidding process involves just the team and not the real estate). Any bidder must be pre-screened by Major League Baseball, have unrestricted cash on hand to fully fund the equity portion of the transaction, show the proper credit agreements and include a deposit of $1.5 million. MLB still must approve any potential owner even after the auction has taken place.
If no bidder satisfies the requirements, the Greenberg-Ryan group will ask to be approved as the new owners of the team at the July 22 confirmation hearing already on the schedule.
"Our goal is to do everything possible to bring this process to conclusion so that we can continue to build on the progress we've made on the field the past two seasons and so that the fans and our community can turn their full attention to this great season," Ryan said in a release.
Rangers Baseball Express also announced they have received into escrow the full amount needed for the equity portion of the purchase of the club and has executed the financing agreements for the debt portion.
"We wanted everyone to know that our proposal is fully funded, that we are ready to close and that our number one objective is to get the team out of Chapter 11 as quickly as possible," Greenberg said. "All we need is the Rangers getting their Chapter 11 plan confirmed and final approval from MLB."
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the club is carrying on without expectation that the sale will go through before the July 31 trade deadline.
"We're not counting on the sale coming to a head before the deadline at this point," Daniels said. "If it does, we'll gladly adjust. There are a lot of good things going on and we expect to build on that with the team and resources we have."
The team's sale has been stalled for months by creditors' concerns over team owner Tom Hicks' financially strapped ownership group.
The creditors have argued that the team doesn't just owe $75 million, but is obligated to pay more than $525 million in loans that Hicks Sports Group defaulted on last year. Creditors also have argued that the Greenberg-Ryan bid was not the highest.
Creditors also have said that because last month's bankruptcy filing removed their rights to approve the team's sale, the Rangers acted in bad faith, which would violate bankruptcy codes.