Rangers May Have 4 Bidders Besides Nolan Ryan Group

The Texas Rangers have as many as four potential bidders that may compete in an auction to buy the baseball team besides a group led by Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, Chief Restructuring Officer William Snyder said.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn listened to testimony today at a hearing in Fort Worth, Texas, and will decide later whether to revise the schedule under which the team will be sold at an auction currently planned for Aug. 4. The hearing will continue July 22.

“The bidding procedures do not provide sufficient time for potential bidders to be able to participate meaningfully in the sale process and are too skewed to the advantage” of the Ryan group, lawyers for lenders said in July 15 court papers urging Lynn to delay the auction.

Houston businessman Jim Crane, who unsuccessfully bid for the team before its bankruptcy, is one of the potential bidders, Snyder said. Dallas businessman Jeff Beck is another. The remaining two haven’t been disclosed. Snyder said the unidentified bidders have done very limited work, and one has only made two phone calls regarding the sale.

The unidentified bidders thus could be “a ghost that may or may not appear before us,” the judge said.

Crane was working on an agreement to be the stalking horse, or lead bidder, for the auction and made a specific bid in preliminary drafts of an asset purchase agreement, Snyder said. The amount wasn’t disclosed.

‘Major Impediment’

Snyder told the court he doesn’t know whether Crane will bid under the sale procedures in place. “Financing is the major impediment” to getting offers from the potential bidders, he said. Lynn said the deadline to obtain financing for the deal may be extended as much as two months into October under the sale guidelines he laid out last week.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on July 16 that he was interested in buying the Rangers. When an attorney for the Greenberg-Ryan group tried to ask Snyder if Cuban was one of the four potential bidders, the judge told Snyder not to answer because not all of the offers are public.

Sal Galatioto, president of Galatioto Sports Partners, a sports investment firm, testified that it would take about 90 days for any deal to get done. He said he would be willing to let the Ryan group’s agreement expire.

Galatioto, who represented the Ricketts family when they bought the Chicago Cubs out of bankruptcy last year, is representing Tom Hicks as he tries to sell the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars and his interest in the American Airlines Center. Galatioto said he expects the Stars sale to bring in about $140 million to $150 million in proceeds for lenders of Hicks’s HSG Sports Group LLC, the Rangers’ parent.

Rangers’ team manager Ron Washington is expected to testify at the July 22 hearing, Snyder’s attorney, Louis R. Strubeck Jr., said in an e-mail.

The case is In re Texas Rangers Baseball Partners, 10-43400, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Texas (Fort Worth).

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