The battle for the Boston Red Sox Major League Baseball franchise -- thought
to be over after the team's limited partners selected a bidder -- heated up
again Thursday after Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly said he was
'troubled' that the winning offer was $90 million short of the highest bid.
The Red Sox agreed to sell the team -- and its 80 percent control of New
England Sports Network -- to a group led by Florida financier John Henry and
television producer Tom Werner.
The Henry-Werner group's bid -- $660 million in cash and the assumption of
$40 million in debt -- was far short of a $790 million rival bid from a group
including Comcast Corp. Cablevision Systems Corp. chairman Charles Dolan also
submitted a bid for $700 million.
At a press conference Thursday, Reilly said that if the Red Sox had selected
the highest bid, it could have meant an additional $50 million for the Yawkey
Trust, a charitable foundation that is the team's majority owner.
Reilly spokeswoman Sarah Nathan said the attorney general's office is seeking
more detailed information on the bids, which the Red Sox later said they would
provide at a regularly scheduled meeting Jan. 2.
Just what Reilly will be able to do concerning the Red Sox sale is unclear.
Although the attorney general's office has oversight over charitable
institutions, the Red Sox are a privately held organization and the sale is a
But because the Yawkey Trust is legally required to give its portion of the
proceeds of the sale to charity, it gives Reilly the opportunity to at least
question the team's sale to a lower bidder.
It is also unclear whether he could force the team to take the higher offer
or reopen the bidding.
'We're taking this step by step,' Nathan said. 'Right now, we're focusing on
[the Henry-Werner] bid.'
Cablevision already owns the National Basketball Association's New York
Knicks, the National Hockey League's New York Rangers and the Women's National
Basketball Association's New York Liberty.
Dolan's brother, Lawrence, owns MLB's Cleveland Indians.
Dolan's bid for the Red Sox was personal and not connected with Cablevision.
Cablevision declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Dolan did not return phone
Comcast emerged as a bidder after New York attorney Miles Prentice revealed
that the Philadelphia-based MSO was part of his group, which offered $790
million for the team.
On Wednesday, Prentice told the Boston Globe Comcast was mainly
interested in NESN and in the television rights for the baseball club.
According to the Globe, Comcast would invest a minimum of $100 million
toward the bid. In addition, New York private-equity firm Quadrangle Group LLC
-- a longtime investment partner of Comcast -- would provide between $80 million
and $100 million to the group.
Comcast's participation in the bid was kept quiet so as not to detract from
its $72 billion deal to purchase AT&T Broadband, announced Dec. 18, Prentice
told the newspaper.
The Globe said that if Prentice's bid was the winner, Comcast and
Quadrangle would purchase NESN and 30-year television rights for the Red
Comcast declined to comment. Neither Quadrangle managing principal Steven
Rattner nor Prentice returned phone calls seeking comment.