View Full Version : Disney close to deal on selling Angels?

04-14-2003, 12:10 PM
Could this mean there will soon be one less 'loser' to drain money from the theme parks?

NEW YORK -- Walt Disney Co. is nearing an agreement to sell its Anaheim Angels baseball team for $160 million to $180 million, far less than Disney anticipated when it first contemplated a sale three years ago, people familiar with the negotiations told The Wall Street Journal.

The company is in final stages of negotiations with Phoenix businessman Arturo Moreno. Mr. Moreno, 56 years old, is a private investor who, with his partners, sold an outdoor-advertising company, Outdoor Systems Inc., to Infinity Broadcasting Corp. in 1999 for more than $8 billion in stock and debt. While a deal with Mr. Moreno is near, however, other bidders remain a possibility, including real-estate developer Frank McCourt and members of the Nederlander family.

A sale would end Disney's financially disappointing ownership of the Angels, which won the World Series last fall. Disney acquired full control of the team in 1998, paying a total of $147 million to the family of founding owner Gene Autry. Disney also spent nearly $100 million renovating the city-owned stadium in which the team plays.

But Disney had trouble merging professional sports teams into its entertainment empire; its other team, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim of the National Hockey League, also is on the market. Combined, the two teams have lost more than $100 million on an operating basis. Despite their first World Series title, the Angels lost about $10 million last year.

- Wall Street Journal Staff Reporters Stefan Fatsis and Bruce Orwall contributed to this article.

04-14-2003, 12:21 PM
The LA Times reports the following regarding the Anaheim Angels:Arturo Moreno, who parlayed his fortune from the advertising business into minority stakes in the Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns, has emerged as a leading candidate to buy the Angels from the Walt Disney Co., sources familiar with the sale process said Thursday.

Negotiations between Moreno and Disney have become "feverish," according to one source. Commissioner Bud Selig is expected to meet with Moreno as soon as this weekend to discuss the possible purchase.

Moreno, whose interest in the Angels has not previously been revealed, appears to have advanced past the other top bidders, real estate developer Frank McCourt and entertainment impresarios James and Robert Nederlander.
"He's definitely the No. 1 guy," one source said of Moreno.

Moreno, 56, could not be reached for comment. His ability to afford the Angels is not in question; Forbes magazine estimates his net worth at $940 million.

A Vietnam veteran and an Arizona native, Moreno made his millions in the outdoor advertising business, selling the ads you see at sports venues, malls and bus stops and on roadside billboards. He and his partner, William Levine, sold Outdoor Systems to Viacom for $8.7 billion in stock four years ago, according to Forbes.

Moreno sold his 5% interest in the Diamondbacks last November, after a "falling out with key shareholders" over the need for new investors and after failing in an earlier attempt to buy controlling interest in the team, according to the Arizona Republic.

Jerry Colangelo, the managing general partner of the Diamondbacks and Suns, confirmed Thursday that Moreno remains an investor in the Suns. Colangelo said Moreno has not discussed with him the potential purchase of the Angels.

"I would not be surprised," Colangelo said. "He has expressed to me a real interest in owning a team."

Moreno started as a billboard salesman -- earning $2.25 in his first commission check, according to a Fortune magazine profile -- and remains enthusiastic about the advertising industry.

"It's a fun business, a people business," he told Fortune. "Lots of entertaining, going to ballgames or the theater."

Disney first discussed selling the Angels in 1999, and company executives negotiated with the Nederlander brothers for months last year. Disney nonetheless retained Lehman Bros., a New York investment banking firm, last September to identify and solicit other buyers.

Lehman lured two promising parties in Moreno and McCourt, the Boston developer who failed in his bid to buy the Red Sox in 2001. McCourt's grandfather was one of the minority owners of the Boston Braves.

In 1996, Disney agreed to buy the Angels from the Autry family for $140 million, and the company spent another $100 million on the renovation of Edison Field. Disney hopes to sell the Angels -- its World Series-winning, money-losing baseball team -- for about $200 million

04-14-2003, 01:18 PM
I don't have much of an opinion one way or the other concerning disney's sports teams- keep or sell, but I find it curious that a sucessful business man would want to buy a team that loses millions each year- even in a world championship season. The team was never a winner or money maker for Gene and I don't see where Disney mis-managed the team. Their team payroll is relatively low and still manage to win the Series.They are located in a large population area. TV revenue is guaranteed. It just seems that sports loyalties the the Anihiem area are directed towards LA. Maybe he's buying for ego, similar to Dallas Mavs owner Mark Kuban. Must be nice to have that kinda money.