Angelos stands pat on 'Skins O's owner won't boost bid

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December 31, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

Orioles owner Peter Angelos said yesterday he has declined to increase his bid for the Washington Redskins, but hasn't received any formal notification that he's no longer in the running to get the team.

Angelos said he assumes he's no longer in contention, but he dislikes the blind bidding process being conducted by the investment banking firm of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in which he doesn't know what the other bidders are offering.

"Let's just say the whole process and procedure is not one that we find appealing," Angelos said. "We made a fair offer and if it's not accepted, that concludes our effort."

Angelos declined to discuss the specifics of his bid because of the confidentiality agreement he signed, but a source said he bid $550 million plus a deferred payment of another $25 million to $50 million to be paid within five years.

Of the bidding process, Angelos said, "As I understand it, this procedure is done in the world of high finance, but I find it unacceptable, although that's not meant as a criticism. You could be bidding against yourself."

Angelos contrasted it to the bidding war he won for the Orioles for $173 million in 1993.

"I'm glad the Oriole auction wasn't conducted that way," he said. "The team might have been in Ohio by now. We had the opportunity to face the opposition and bid against them in open court with a very competent judge presiding over the entire process. This is completely different. I like to see the whites of the eyes of the other bidders. All we get are phone calls."

Contacted at his office last night, Mark Eichorn, the executive from Morgan Stanley in charge of the bidding process, declined to comment on why Angelos has yet to receive any notification that he's apparently out of the running.

Angelos said he first got a phone call last Wednesday asking if he wanted to raise his bid and he declined.

"It wasn't suggested that if we didn't, our presence was no longer required," he said.

Angelos said that Mike Haley, the chief financial officer of his business enterprises and law firm, then called Morgan Stanley back on Monday to inquire about the status of the bidding and was asked again if he wanted to raise his bid. He declined again and Angelos has had no further contact with the firm.

Angelos said raising his bid would not have made financial sense.

"I think other factors are influencing the bidders other than economic factors. Anyone bidding more is strictly ego-driven, not that that's a bad thing," Angelos said.

Some of the other bidders who've dropped out and various financial analysts have said a bid of more than $600 million was not justified by the revenue produced by the Redskins.

Although the team produces close to $70 million a year, the club pays $18 million a year on the debt on the stadium built by the late owner, Jack Kent Cooke.

Angelos also noted that the investment firm for the foundation set up by Cooke is conducting a stock sale, not an asset sale. That means there are very few depreciation benefits for the buyer.

He also said the location of the new stadium in Largo is another problem.

"It's in the wrong location, Nowheresville, and the access and egress isn't good. You don't have the color and drama of a game in the nation's capital the way you did at RFK Stadium. But now it's done and I'm afraid it's going to be there a long time," he said.

Still, the top bids are reported to be in the $650 million range. John Kent Cooke, Cooke's son who is attempting to keep the team in the family, is bidding against several groups.

They include one headed by Phoenix developer Sam Grossman that includes former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs; a group headed by Fort Worth, Texas, investor David Bonderman, Washington developer Ted Lerner and Dallas banker Gerald J. Ford; a group headed by New York businessmen John J. McMullen and Chuck Dolan, and a group led by New York banker Howard Milstein and Bethesda businessman Daniel M. Snyder.

Pub Date: 12/31/98

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