Monday, March 26, 2012

Owners to Vote Tuesday on Final Three Dodger Bidders

      By Ross Newhan

      Major league baseball owners will meet by conference call Tuesday to vote on the three surviving bidders in the bunkruptcy auction of the Dodgers. All of the bidders are expected to be approved, although some owners have concern about the financial structure of the group fronted by Magic Johnson and former baseball executive Stan Kasten.

      The call will be made amid a new memo from the federal bankruptcy court, concerned about the amount of information being leaked on various aspects of the process, that underscores the court's initial order for everyone involved to refrain from discussing it publicly or face a contempt of court charge.

      The Johnson/Kasten group, which has produced concern among some owners because more than 50% of its principal financing is coming from state regulated insurance companies in Kansas and Indiana under the framework of a structure produced by their partner, Mark Walter, CEO of  Guggenheim Partners, has cleared the vetting process by two ownership groups and is exected to receive the 23 of 30 votes that are required Tuesday to move on.

      Also expected to move on are St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kronke and a group headed by billionaires Steven Cohen and Patrick Soon-Shiong.

      The end to this convoluted and contentious process is in sight.

      The bidders surviving Tuesday's vote can begin final negotiations with owner Frank McCourt and his broker, Blackstone Advisory Partners, in New York Wednesday.

      McCourt has been hopeful of selling for $1.5 billion or more, but if he insists on retaining control of the Dodger Stadium parking lot the price could be less--or barely enough to compensate his creditors.

      He is required to complete sale negotiations by April 30, when he must pay Jamie McCourt the $131 million she is owed in their divorce settlement, but he could pick the winner by the end of this week.

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