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Dodgers say bankruptcy case is on track
DOVER, DEL. (AP) - The Los Angeles Dodgers filed a revised reorganization plan on Friday and said they are on track to exit bankruptcy as planned by April 30.
The amended Chapter 11 plan filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware is based on an agreement announced last week to sell the team for more than $2 billion, which the Dodgers say will allow for the payment of all allowed creditor claims in full.
The $2 billion purchase price includes about $412 million of existing debt financing that will remain in place. The balance, just under $1.6 billion, will be paid in cash from equity financing by the owners and affiliates of Guggenheim, which has provided a cash deposit of about $159 million.
“This agreement is the culmination of an auction process that was conducted over several months and reflects the highest and best bid generated by that process,” the team said in a prepared statement.
The April 30 date was included in a settlement that resolved a dispute between the Dodgers and Major League Baseball over the team’s bankruptcy. It coincides with the deadline for current owner Frank McCourt to pay $131 million to his ex-wife, Jamie, as part of their divorce settlement.
The judge presiding over the bankruptcy case has scheduled a hearing next Friday to consider whether to confirm the plan.
While the purchase agreement with Guggenheim calls for the sale to close on April 30, it also allows the Dodgers to seek approval from MLB or the court to extend the closing date to sometime next month if need be.
Court papers indicate that Dodgers chief financial officer Peter Wilhelm will remain in that post with the reorganized company. Kasten, former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, will serve as president and CEO.
“By any measure, the plan is a remarkable outcome for the debtors, their estates, and all parties in interest, especially taking into account where these cases began,” Dodgers attorneys wrote in a memorandum supporting the revised plan.
The Dodgers sought bankruptcy protection in June after baseball Commissioner Bud Selig refused to approve a new TV deal with Fox Sports that McCourt was counting on in order to make payroll and keep the franchise solvent.
After the bankruptcy filing, attorneys for Selig successfully fought to force the Dodgers to accept bankruptcy financing from Major League Baseball, arguing at the same time that McCourt had looted more than $180 million from the team for his own use and reasons not related to baseball, and that he should be forced to sell the team.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, threatened to seek court permission to enter into a new media rights deal without the approval of MLB.
After battling for several months, the Dodgers and MLB reached an agreement last year that authorized a sale of both the team and a process to market the media rights to games starting in 2014.
Fox Sports objected to the settlement with MLB and the proposed marketing of future media rights, saying it violated Fox’s rights under its existing telecast contract with the Dodgers.
The Dodgers reached a settlement with Fox in January after a federal district court judge said Fox likely would win an appeal of the bankruptcy judge’s ruling authorizing the marketing of the media rights.
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