MLB Opens Nats' Books to Eight Bidders

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Major League Baseball invited the eight groups bidding on the Washington Nationals yesterday to examine the team's most recent financial information before the league proceeds with selecting a new owner, according to several bidders who spoke on condition of anonymity because MLB has asked them not to discuss the sale process.

The Nationals' 2005 financial results and the team's 2006 budget are available for bidders to examine at league offices in New York, MLB informed bidders in a brief e-mail.

The league also offered to send bidders details of MLB's recently signed lease for a new, $611 million stadium project that the city will build for the team on the Anacostia waterfront in Southeast, sources said.

The league notified bidders that it was now prepared to proceed to the final stage of due diligence, which began last summer, in preparation for the team's sale.

All eight bidders have agreed to pay MLB's set price of $450 million for the Nationals, according to sources. The league has said any of the eight could be the owner, but the leading groups are believed to be the family of Washington developer Theodore "Ted" Lerner; Indianapolis media mogul Jeffrey Smulyan, who has assembled a group of Washington area business partners; and a local syndicate led by District businessmen Fred Malek and Jeffrey Zients. Atlanta businessman and former sports executive Stan Kasten could join up with the Lerner group, according to sources.

-- Thomas Heath

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