The confirmation hearing to approve the prepackaged plan that would exit the Texas Rangers from Chapter 11 bankruptcy has moved, yet again, on the calendar, back to July 22 but keeps the July 6 mediation hearing date, a sign that the court appointed mediation process is a last ditch effort to get the creditors concessions that they will find acceptable, while satisfying MLB in keeping with the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan ownership group they wish to see control the club. As the court order reads:
The Honorable Russell F. Nelms, United States Bankruptcy Judge for the Northern District of Texas, is appointed to act as mediator (the â€śMediatorâ€ť). The following entities, (a) the Debtor, (b) Major League Baseball (including the Office of the Commissioner), (c) The Ad Hoc Group of First Lien Lenders, (d) J.P. Morgan Chase, Administrative Agent for the First Lien Holders, (e) GSP Finance LLC, Administrative Agent for the Second Lien Holders ((c)â€“ (e), collectively, the â€śLendersâ€ť), (f) the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors and (g) William Snyder, in his capacity as Chief Restructuring Officer of Rangers Equity Holdings, L.P. and Rangers Equity Holdings GP, LLC (all of the foregoing being referred to herein as the â€śPartiesâ€ť) are ordered to mediation regarding the Debtorâ€™s proposed plan of reorganization and treatment of the Lendersâ€™ claims thereunder. In order to allow as much time as possible for the Parties to reach an accord, the mediation shall commence at 12:00 p.m. on July 6, 2010â€¦â€¦ unless Judge Nelms directs that mediation occur at a different time or place. Once commenced, the mediation may continue, at the discretion of the Mediator, on July 8 and July 16 until concluded, or at such other times as directed by the Mediator.
Adding, that â€śThe hearing on confirmation of the Debtorâ€™s Plan is reset to July 22, 2010, at 9:30 a.m., and shall continue on July 23, 2010, at 9:30 a.m., if necessary.â€ť
The moving of the confirmation hearing is part of a back and forth playing out on the calendar. The hearing, originally scheduled for July 9 was initially moved to the 22nd by Judge Lynn to allow time for mediation. Rangers Baseball Express, the investor group led by Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan filed an emergency filing looking to bump the hearing back to its original July 9 date to allow time to be active at the trade deadline. Allowing more time in mediation should certainly assist in a stabilizing what has been a rocky period in the Texas Rangers sale case.
According to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News, on July 16 a one-day auction is set for the sale of the club to the highest bidder. The open bid is part of Chief Restructuring Officer William Sniderâ€™s is expected recommendation to Judge D. Michael Lynn in the case.
But, the open bidding does not mean MLB has to approve any sale other than Greenberg/Ryan.
MLB President and COO Bob Dupuy confirmed the auction, but in speaking to the SportsBusiness Daily said, â€śNo one has suggested that any auction occur that in anyway obviates MLB's clear and unambiguous right to approve or disapprove any ownership candidate,â€ť he wrote in an e-mail. â€śThere has been absolutely no discussion of that with either of the judges involved or the CRO.â€ť
The league has said repeatedly that Crane would not be approved as an owner, which leaves the group led by Dennis Gilbert and Jeff Beck as the other group that will make a play for the highest bid.
But as noted by DuPuy, the CRO recognizes the approval process MLB has in terms of ownership. Everything appears to landing in mediation where the creditors, MLB, and the Greenberg/Ryan group need to come to some sort of amicable agreement to allow matters to move forward before the July 22 confirmation hearingâ€¦ Of course unless the hearing moves on the calendar (again).
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey, as well as a contributor to Forbes SportsMoney blog. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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