Wednesday, March 31, 1999

Dolan pursuing deal through Lindner




BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Larry Dolan, whose chances of buying into the the Reds depend on forging a deal with the team's limited partners, has had “recent conversations” with limited partner Carl Lindner, a source familiar with the proposed sale of the team said Tuesday.

        But deal insiders don't think it will be enough to prevent Lindner from matching the Cleveland attorney's $65 million offer for 5.5 of Marge Schott's shares, including her controlling interest.

        Dolan could not be reached and Lindner rarely talks to the media. Schott hung up on The Enquirer Tuesday night.

        Although the Dolan deal is in trouble, apparently he is still trying to put something together in the next week, before the April 6 deadline.

        The limited partners have until April 6 to match a formal offer for the club, but they argue Dolan's letter-of-intent doesn't constitute a formal offer.

        There are indications Schott no longer believes it's a deal, either, setting up countless scenarios:

        • April 6 comes and goes and nothing happens because no one recognizes the letter-of-intent as a formal offer and April 6 as a deadline. Dolan pulls the deal off the table because he can't work a deal with the limiteds and the Reds are back to square one with Schott having until June 30 to entertain more offers.

        • Nothing happens by April 6, but Dolan argues he has a legal deal and the team. Observers say that's not Dolan's style and doubt he would pursue the case in court.

        • With Schott not believing she has a deal with Dolan, she could pursue her interest in a local group involving her cousin, former Reds executive Steve Schott.

        • The limited partners, led by Lindner, match before or on April 6 to avoid complications.

        • Dolan and the limiteds

        form a new partnership uniting Dolan's deep pockets and the partners' deep Cincinnati roots.

        The final option is Dolan's trump card. Sources suggest he can give the limited partners two things dear to them: money and a voice. He can front a new partnership as well as give the limiteds more of a role in running the team, which was a sore point with the partners in their relationship with Schott.

        A Dolan-Lindner union could result in a democratic style of govern ing the Reds. Major decisions could be entrusted to a board of directors in which each partner has a vote. Day-to-day matters, such as trades and other baseball moves, could be approved by a smaller group.

        Some close to the sale believe the Dolan offer must be resolved before Schott can move on to the next option. Either Dolan pulls out, or the limited partners match.

        If another deal is to be considered, it must be presented to the limited partners, as the Dolan deal was March 8.

       



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