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Nationals' Bidders Have Until Jan. 31

Wednesday, January 19, 2005; Page D10

Major League Baseball has sent a message to prospective buyers of the Washington Nationals giving them until Jan. 31 to submit their applications along with a partially refundable $100,000 deposit, two sources confirmed yesterday.

About a half-dozen bidders have so far placed the $100,000 deposits, according to MLB. Some bidders have been told that they may start to review the Nationals' financial data by the end of January, although no specific dates appear to have been set.

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MLB has not identified the bidders, but at least two groups are from the Washington area. One group is headed by businessmen Fred Malek and Jeffrey D. Zients, and includes several other local businessmen and attorneys.

A second Washington area group is led by the Lerner family, which runs Bethesda-based Lerner Enterprises, one of the most successful real estate businesses in the region. The Lerner properties have included Dulles Town Center, Tysons Corner Center and Tysons II.

Baseball hopes to sell the Nationals for at least $300 million before Opening Day, but baseball insiders said it may take until late spring or early summer to complete the sale.

-- Thomas Heath

© 2005 The Washington Post Company