Friday, March 18, 2011

NY Post: MLB approves at least 3 potential bidding groups


Major League Baseball has approved at least three potential bidding groups, according to the NY Post.


The groups include one led by the team of Goldman Sachs' David Heller and Apollo's Marc Spilker, and another including Steve Starker, co-founder of the global-trading firm BTIG and Ken Dichter, the co-founder of Marquis Jet as potential New York Mets owners, sources said.

At least one or two additional bidders have also been passed along to the MLB Commissioner, and could be cleared to bid for the team, sources said.

Each of the groups were first vetted by Mets investment bank Allen & Co.


The approved suitors are expected to meet next week with Allen & Co., where they will get to see confidential financials of the team and quickly begin the process of deciding whether to actually make an offer.

The sale process is expected to be all but complete by June 30.

The Mets are seeking a buyer for a minority interest in the team -- for between 25 percent and possibly up to 49 percent -- to raise much-needed cash to pay down debt. Team owners, including majority owner Fred Wilpon and his brother-in-law Saul Katz, lost hundreds of millions in Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, and took out loans from banks and from MLB to fund day-to-day activities.

The team, which is losing roughly $50 million a year, needs to pay down that debt.
Bidders are likely to insist on protections on their investment, including, sources said, a guarantee that the minority stake would be increased if the group were asked to pump more money into the team down the line, and to overall payroll minimums so the owners do not cut costs too far.

The Mets have an incentive to find a buyer soon, as the pitch in selling the team at above a $1 billion valuation is that attendance will improve this season over last. If the Mets get off to a poor start in April and attendance actually falls, that may become a harder sell, a source said.
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