CHICAGO, April 9 (Reuters) – Creditors of the company that owns the Texas Rangers will ignore a Friday deadline set by Major League Baseball to accept or reject a $570 million deal for the team, according to two sources familiar with the process.
“The banks are not happy with the proceeds from the deal,” said one source, who asked not to be identified discussing the ongoing talks.
Minor league baseball team owner and sports attorney Chuck Greenberg was selected as the lead bidder in December and the next month reached a deal with sports tycoon Tom Hicks.
However, a final deal has not been reached that would satisfy Hicks Sports Group (HSG), its creditors and Greenberg.
The creditor banks declared HSG in default on $525 million in loans in April 2009 and want a larger return than what the current offer gives them.
The second source agreed the creditors plan to ignore the U.S. sports league’s deadline to accept Greenberg’s bid. Both sources said the sides are about $35 million apart. But a third source said the gap was far less.
A spokesman for Greenberg said, “This is an extraordinarily complex transaction and delays have been commonplace throughout the process. Another week or two won’t make any difference.”
Greenberg, whose group includes Rangers president and Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, previously said he hoped to have a deal finalized by the week of April 19, a time line the second source called “laughable.”
“Either Greenberg realizes the bid is too low or Major League Baseball reopens the bidding,” the source said. “It’s going to go on through next week and probably the week after that, maybe longer.”
Creditors also believe Greenberg’s bid was not the highest, but MLB favored his group nonetheless, the source said. Other bidders included freight forwarding executive Jim Crane and Dennis Gilbert, an insurance executive who was formerly a powerful sports agent.
A fourth source familiar with the sales process viewed the stance of the creditors as “an effort to shake down a little more return.”
The third source, who also asked not to be identified, disputed that baseball had set a Friday deadline, calling it more “a request for action.” The source said he would not be surprised if the creditors did not weigh in Friday.
Meanwhile, Hicks Sports Group is also selling the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars. A number of bidders have expressed interest and the team’s financial books are due soon, a source involved in that process said.
Hicks separately owns half of the English Premier League’s Liverpool soccer club. (Reporting by Ben Klayman, editing by Matthew Lewis)