The Pittsburgh Pirates may have spent most of the season in first place in the National League East division, but McLean home builder NVR decided earlier this year that it didn't want to play ball anymore.
The company said yesterday that it sold its stake in the Pirates in May for $2 million. NVR, the largest home builder in the Washington area, inherited its piece of the major-league baseball team when it acquired Ryan Homes in 1987.
Ryan had paid $2 million for a stake in the team, in partnership with nine other Pittsburgh companies and three individuals, in 1986 after it appeared the money-losing ball club was going to leave the city. Team officials say NVR sold its stake back to the other investors.
Douglas H. Poretz, NVR's vice president for partnership affairs, said NVR only hung on to the interest in the Pirates this long because of a commitment made by Ryan to the city of Pittsburgh. "We would have sold it even if we had $200 million on our bottom line," he said.
In other news involving NVR, the price of one of the company's bonds weakened considerably this week, indicating the financial markets' concern about the health of the company.
The price of the company's bond paying 10 percent and due in 2002 fell to $12 yesterday. In recent weeks, it had traded at about $33, down considerably from its original face value of $100.
NVR builds and sells most of its houses in the Washington area under its subsidiaries NVHomes and Ryan Homes. It also operates a financial services division and a building products division. It had issued $45 million worth of the bonds in connection with its $360 million acquisition of Pittsburgh-based Ryan Homes.
Late last month, NVR's debt rating was lowered by Moody's Investors Service and Standard & Poor's Corp. The downgrading was spurred by concern over the company's higher debt levels from its land purchases, as well as NVR's announcement that its land-development subsidiary was unable to make some interest payments and is in default on its $10 million line of credit. The company has noted that only $3.4 million of its subsidiary's loans are guaranteed by the parent company.
NVLand, a privately held land-development partnership based in McLean, said yesterday that it will change its name to Elm Street Development as of Monday.
The company was founded by NVR Chairman Dwight Schar and partners in 1977, but Schar sold his stake to the other partners earlier this year. NVLand partners Stephen Cumbie and P. Reed Wills II sit on the board of NVR L.P., but the company is not otherwise connected to NVR L.P. Partner David Flanagan said the partnership changed its name because of "confusion" over the name similarities.