Progress made in sale of Braves (1 Viewer)

cablewithaview

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Stand against retrans!!!
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Apr 18, 2005
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Blank, media firm both in serious talks

Time Warner, seeking a buyer for the Braves, has made significant progress in negotiations with both Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and Colorado-based Liberty Media, people familiar with the talks said Thursday.

Negotiations have progressed far enough that a deal could be completed fairly quickly with either bidder.

Blank and Time Warner have closed the gap that earlier divided them on financial terms, putting a possible deal within striking range.

But Time Warner could opt to instead include the team as part of a larger transaction being negotiated with Liberty Media.

Two other bidders for the Braves —- a group led by Atlanta-based real estate executive Ron Terwilliger and the family of Atlanta radio mogul Lew Dickey Jr. —- also continue to have talks with Time Warner about buying the team. But their negotiations have not progressed nearly as far as those with Blank and Liberty.

If the battle to buy the Braves comes down to Blank vs. Liberty, the contest offers a stark contrast of potential owners: the well-known local individual vs. the unknown out-of-town corporation.

Blank, the Home Depot co-founder, expressed interest as soon as Time Warner put the team up for sale in December. There were extensive talks between Blank's representatives and Time Warner in January and February, but Blank broke off talks in late February because of a disagreement on price.

He resumed talks a month later and apparently has upped his offer to Time Warner's liking.

Time Warner is believed to be seeking $400 million-plus for the Braves.

Meanwhile, Time Warner and Liberty Media are deep into discussions about a larger deal that could include the Braves, other assets and some of Liberty's $3 billion worth of Time Warner stock, a person familiar with those negotiations said. The person added that Liberty's interest in the Braves has grown over the past month but cautioned that the Liberty negotiations are particularly complex and fluid.

Liberty Media, a publicly traded holding company based in Englewood, Colo., owns stakes in many businesses, including shopping network QVC, a 19 percent interest in Fox parent company News Corp. and a 6 1/2 percent stake in the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche. Liberty and Time Warner are 50-50 partners in Court TV, which also could be involved in a Braves transaction.

Liberty's chairman is former cable TV magnate John Malone, who controlled a large stake in Turner Broadcasting before it was acquired by Time Warner.

Liberty Media has said that it wants to unload its stake in Time Warner. Liberty CEO Greg Maffei told investors on a conference call last month that he "would love to get some operating assets from Time Warner ... particularly in ways we can do that tax efficiently and somehow manage a tax-free redemption of stock."

Liberty Media spokesman John Orr was not available for comment Thursday. However, he told the Journal-Constitution last month that the most tax-efficient way to sell stock "is to exchange it back to the issuer for an operating business they own."

Asked at the time if Liberty would want to own the Braves, Orr said he couldn't comment on the team specifically but added: "If we acquired any asset ... we would be hoping to acquire a strong management team that could continue to operate the asset as it has in the past."

There also could be significant tax advantages for Time Warner in exchanging the team for its own stock. Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons earlier this year increased the company's stock buyback program to $20 billion.

http://www.ajc.com/news/content/sports/braves/stories/0421bravessale.html
 

shugo77

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Jan 9, 2005
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Heart of Dixie
I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Arthur Blank.
He turned the Falcons around, so I think he could be a big boost for the Braves to get out of their post season funk.
 

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