Texas Rangers lenders sue to force bankruptcy

CHICAGO, May 29 (BestGrowthStock) – A group of lenders to the Texas
Rangers sued on Friday to put the baseball team’s equity
owners, controlled by private equity investor Thomas Hicks,
into bankruptcy.

The involuntary bankruptcy petitions, filed in Fort Worth
against Rangers Equity Holdings LP and Rangers Equity Holdings
GP by four hedge funds, comes days after the team put itself
voluntarily into bankruptcy to ease a proposed $575 million
sale to a group led by team president and Hall of Fame pitcher
Nolan Ryan.

The Rangers’ equity owners, controlled by Hicks’ HSG Sports
Group, were not part of the team’s May 24 “prepackaged”
bankruptcy filing. Lenders to the Hicks group declared default
on $525 million of loans in April 2009. HSG acquired the team
in 1998.

The court action on Friday may signal that some of the
team’s lenders are dissatisfied with the terms of the proposed
sale.

The petitions “are intended to ensure that the bankruptcy
proceedings meet the objective of maximizing value for all
creditors,” a spokesman for the lender group said. The lenders
had told the court on May 25 that they might take such an
action, he said.

Petitioners, who said they were owed a collective $144.4
million, include hedge funds Kingsland Capital Management
($12.2 million); Monarch Master Funding LLC ($119.8 million);
Sankaty Advisors LLC ($9.1 million); and Stonehill Offshore
Partners Ltd ($3.3 million). All said their claims are
secured.

Major League Baseball, Nolan’s group, and Hicks have all
said they support the sale.

But earlier this month, The New York Times said Monarch
told baseball owners that lenders would not agree to a sale for
a price “below fair market value.”

The Rangers are the second Major League Baseball team to
seek a bankruptcy-court-approved sale in the past year.

Last October, Chicago Cubs owner Tribune Co, which had been
in bankruptcy court itself for nearly a year, filed for court
protection for the team in connection with the Cubs’ $845
million sale to the family of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp
(AMTD.O: ) founder Joseph Ricketts and his son, Tom Ricketts.

The cases are In re: Texas Rangers Equity Group LP, No.
10-43624 and Texas Rangers Equity Group GP, No. 10-43625, both
in U.S. bankruptcy Court, Northern District of Texas.

Investment Advice
(Reporting by Ann Saphir in Chicago, with additional
reporting by Emily Chasan in New York; Editing by Eric Walsh)

Texas Rangers lenders sue to force bankruptcy