Monday, January 11, 2010

McLane getting ready to sell Astros?

There are a few reports tonight that Drayton McLane is getting ready to sell the Astros. This has been re-organized so that newest information is at the top.

The updated Chronicle article has a little more for us:
The investment group is Great Court Capital, based out of New York, and Marc Isaacson is the lead negotiator.

“It’s really inappropriate to make any comment other than Drayton has been a friend of mine for a number of years, and I think the world of him. That is the appropriate thing to say at this time. There are a lot of people interested in acquiring baseball teams.”

Circling the Bases speculates that Houston businessman Jim Crane, who also failed in bidding for the Rangers, is a part of this group. Calcaterra also notes that Drayton McLane has signed a "working letter of intent" to enter negotiations to sell.

The updated Chronicle article lists former USOC chief Harvey Schiller and an unidentified New York investment banker (I bet we could narrow that down), and that McLane's asking price is believed to be $650 million, a price that "industry experts" are skeptical can be reached.

Schiller was briefly in on the sale of the Rangers and, of course, couldn't be reached for comment.
Update from the Chronicle says that Bud Selig doesn't think McLane will sell:
Drayton told me he hasn't heard a peep since the original inquiry. This is a bogus story."

I don’t think in a difficult economy there's going to be a sale. How many franchises have been sold recently? I doubt seriously if anything is going to occur.
That said, Mark Berkman of Fox 26 has some words from Drayton, who says the investors are from New York:
"An investment banking company said, 'If we can raise the money, would you talk to us about us buying the team?' and they said, 'Would you give us 30 days?' and we said, 'Sure.'

"We've done that before. So they are trying to see if they can raise the money."

Berman says Drayton doesn't consider this any more serious than any other time he has been approached about a potential sale. What are the chances a deal gets done?

There's probably less than a 50-50 chance, even if they could, that we wouldn't do it for various reasons. You know this is kind of a sacred trust."
Brian McTaggart is tweeting:
McLane says he's not trying to sell the team and the situation isn't an indicator he's about to sell team.
Around the same time as McTaggart's tweet, KTRK's Bob Allen said that:
The names haven't come forward yet, but we have found out that the big money is from out of town, where three to five investors would be involved, and there would be 10 to 12 smaller level local investors.

Bob Allen goes on to say that the high end of the price could be as high as $700 million, and this group has until the end of the month to come up with the money.

Drayton, on the buyers:
"(They would) have to show us that they have the financial capability to do the deal and they have to show us the people, because we'd only do something if it were really, highly reputable people and that there were a lot of Houston people that were involved in it."

It is now an inevitability that Drayton will sell at some point. Any businessman who can turn a $117 million investment into $700 million will do it. I don't care how much he loves the Astros, for a $530 million profit off my original investment, I would never watch the Astros again, too.