Final Angelos deal takes shape, minus 3 investors Owners unlikely to vote on sale yet

September 08, 1993|By Mark Hyman | Mark Hyman,Staff Writer

BOSTON -- As they wait to take over the Orioles, Peter G. Angelos and his baseball partners have pared a few investors from their group and are close to completing a financing deal for the team.

Leaving the group, which is expected to take over the team before the end of the season, is Baltimore investor Michael Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of Merry-Go-Round Inc.

Also stepping aside recently were Richard L. Pearlstone, a local real estate developer, and Cincinnati businessman Dudley Taft, president of Taft Broadcasting Co., according to sources familiar with talks among prospective Orioles owners. Taft had been a member of a group led by William O. DeWitt Jr. and joined Angelos when the groups merged last month.

Sullivan said he was withdrawing from the Orioles group to invest more heavily in a bid for an expansion football team led by Merry-Go-Round chairman Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass.

"I was a minor partner in the baseball. I felt I'd rather be a more substantial partner in football than a small one in both," he said yesterday.

It wasn't known why Pearlstone and Taft have withdrawn, and neither could be reached for comment yesterday. Angelos declined to speak about the departing investors.

The largest investors in the deal will remain: Angelos, the Baltimore lawyer, who may end up owning more than 50 percent of the Orioles; novelist Tom Clancy, who is expected to have the second-largest investment; and the DeWitt investors, who are expected to kick in as much as $10 million.

When final, the Angelos group still is expected to include up to 20 investors, many of whom live in Maryland or who have close ties here. That list includes Harvey "Bud" Meyerhoff, chairman of a Baltimore-based investment company, Magna Holdings Inc., and the former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial; David H. Bernstein, chairman of Duty Free International; sportscaster Jim McKay; and pro tennis player Pam Shriver.

The Angelos investors, who are paying $173 million for the Orioles, a record for a sports franchise, still have a few hurdles to clear before taking over the team. They have yet to be approved by major-league owners, who have been conducting lengthy background and financial hecks into members of the group. The owners could vote at a two-day meeting beginning here today, but several team executives have said the Baltimore sale probably won't come up at the joint American and National league meetings.

"It is not on the agenda, and it's unlikely there would be action when something is not on the agenda," said Bud Selig, chairman of baseball's Executive Council and president of the Milwaukee Brewers.

If the vote does not come here, it appears only days away. Peter Widdrington, chairman of the Toronto Blue Jays and a member (( of an owners committee studying the Angelos investors, said that group's review of the incoming Orioles owners is nearly finished.

"To the best of my knowledge, it is virtually completed," said Widdrington, one of 10 members of the ownership committee, whose report will be submitted to the 28 owners.

Widdrington said he'd been in meetings with Angelos and other committee members, and he praised the Baltimore lawyer.

"He is just a very solid citizen with a lot of common sense. As far as I am concerned, he is a very good candidate," Widdrington said.

Once the other owners have signed off, the final step for the Angelos group will be to come up with the cash for settlement on the deal. Angelos is close to completing an agreement to borrow more than $90 million from Maryland National Bank, the sources said. Other local lenders, including Mercantile-Safe Deposit and Trust Co., also might be involved in the deal.

Closing on the Orioles deal was supposed to occur by Sept. 15, a deadline imposed by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge. The court has been overseeing the sale of the team because Eli S. Jacobs, the team's present owner, is in personal bankruptcy with debts exceeding his assets by more than $170 million. Under the original court order, the prospective owners would forfeit a $2.5 million escrow payment if they failed to close by the deadline. That date since has been extended, giving Angelos at least until Sept. 20.

Approval of the Orioles group would be a major development at an owners meeting likely to produce lots of closed-door meetings and virtually no news. Revenue-sharing, the most volatile issue, will not be discussed here, according to a statement issued last week by the owners. There's no news expected on the naming of a commissioner or the realignment of baseball divisions and the playoffs.

Said Atlanta Braves president Stan Kasten: "There has been significant progress on all those things, but I don't know anything is going to come to a resolution in Boston."

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