MLB approval process to sell Orioles to David Rubinstein moves quickly – Baltimore Sun
The purchase of the Orioles by private equity billionaire David Rubinstein will be discussed by Major League Baseball owners at their meeting in Florida next week, and is on track to be approved more quickly than sales of similar teams, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the details of the deal. Prospects.
Such approvals – which involve background checks and financing of buyers – usually take several months. Rubinstein’s approval to become controlling owner is expected to move more quickly than most, in part because the Baltimore native, philanthropist and co-chairman of The Carlyle Group is particularly well-known, sources said. Rubinstein’s proposal also has the advantage of being relatively uncomplicated, one of the sources said. They spoke to The Baltimore Sun on the condition of anonymity because the deal is private and still pending.
When the Kansas City Royals were sold in 2019, just under three months passed from the announcement of the sale agreement to official approval from MLB owners. Hedge fund manager Steve Cohen’s 2020 agreement to buy the New York Mets was approved in about seven weeks, but was previously vetted by MLB because he was a minority owner and had made a previous unsuccessful attempt to buy the team.
Estimates of Rubinstein’s timeline are as short as less than six weeks, but sources warn it could take longer.
Spring training for the team begins when pitchers and catchers report on February 14 to Sarasota, Florida. After a breakout campaign in 2023, the Orioles are expected to once again compete for the American League East title, and on Thursday night they traded for former Cy Young winner Corbin Burns.
Rubinstein’s agreement to purchase the team from the Angelos family and assume the position of controlling owner values the franchise and its assets at $1.725 billion. The family has owned the club since ailing family patriarch Peter Angelos, 94, bought it for $173 million in 1993.
Among the unresolved questions in the sale is what happens to more than a dozen investors who have long held minority stakes in Angelos Group. The list includes Pam Shriver, the Baltimore-born tennis star who is now a broadcaster and coach in Los Angeles and has part-owned the team for 31 years.
“My interest in the Madinaty team continues regardless of who is the main owner,” she told The Sun on Thursday.
But with MLB approval still awaited, Shriver, 61, said she’s not sure what the future holds.
The MLB Ownership Commission — a nine-member committee chaired by Philadelphia Phillies owner John Middleton — is expected to be briefed on the agreement during meetings beginning Tuesday in Orlando.
Typically a committee prepares a report and the sale is then voted on by an executive board of eight owners. Orioles Chairman and CEO John Angelos, the team’s MLB-certified “controlling person,” is not a member of the board, which is chaired by Commissioner Rob Manfred.
If that council approves, the sale goes to all 30 owners and needs at least 23 of them to approve. Larger group approval can come through a conference or video call and does not need to coincide with a regularly scheduled meeting such as one that runs Tuesday through Thursday.
Rubinstein, 74, and MLB declined to comment on the details of his purchase until the agreement is approved. An Angelos spokesman did not respond Friday to a request for comment.
The Rubinstein Group will initially assume a 40% ownership stake in the Orioles with an agreement to buy the remaining shares upon Peter Angelos’ death, according to one source and a third person with direct knowledge of the agreement.
In addition to Rubinstein, the still-growing group includes three New York-based individuals affiliated with Ares Management: Michael Arugetti, its co-founder, and Mitchell Goldstein and Michael Smith, co-presidents of Ares Credit Group. Partners include Orioles icon Cal Ripken Jr., as well as Michelle Kang, who owns the National Women’s Soccer League’s Washington Spirit and the Women’s Soccer Club of France. The group also includes former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke and the president of the University of Baltimore. So does Basketball Hall of Famer Grant Hill, whose father, Calvin, served in the Orioles front office and played football at Yale with Schmoke.
New York-based billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the businessman, philanthropist and former mayor of New York City, who Forbes magazine ranks as the 10th richest person in America with a net worth of $96 billion, is also in the celebrity-packed group. Bloomberg now resides in New York, studied at Johns Hopkins University, and has since donated more than $3.5 billion to his alma mater, according to the university.
“Through philanthropy, I have long supported Baltimore and the university that got me there and gave me so much, Johns Hopkins,” Bloomberg said through a spokesman. “This is another way to help the city continue its rebirth, and I know David (Rubinstein) shares my commitment to this mission.”
Besides Shriver, the old Angelus collection includes the estates of Tom Clancy, the prolific novelist who died in 2013. His ex-wife, Wanda King, is also a minority owner.
David Bernstein, the 89-year-old retired co-founder of Duty Free International, has been a part owner since Angelos took over. He still lives in the Baltimore area and is awaiting official word on the sale. He said Thursday that from his ownership standpoint, “nothing has changed.”
The same can be said of the Marion I. and Henry J. Knott Foundation. Henry Knott was one of the original investors along with Angelos. Although he was no expert in the sport (“I know about baseball as much as you know about going to the moon,” he told The Sun in 1993), he had fond memories of jumping the fence to visit Oriole Park when he was in 29th Street died in 1995 at the age of 89 and his foundation and his wife now own part of the team.
“We’ll wait and see what happens,” Kelly Kilduff, the foundation’s executive director, said of their ownership stake.
Usually when a team is sold, minority owners are obligated to sell their shares as well, said Nellie Drew, a sports law professor at the University of Buffalo. There is often a clause in their agreement that dictates a sale – unless the new ownership group agrees to them staying on board.
“You never want to force people into a situation where they have to deal with people they didn’t choose,” Drew said.
As many did when Peter Angelos bought the team in 1993, fans rejoiced at the prospect of new Rubinstein ownership. This is to be expected, Drew said, noting that there is often a “honeymoon period with the fans” when a team changes owners.
After what was a relatively quiet outfield, the Orioles hit a home run on Thursday, adding Burns. The 29-year-old has been an All-Star in each of the past three seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers and will immediately become a star for Baltimore. Asked at a news conference Friday about the upcoming trade shortly after the ownership change was announced, Orioles executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias said: “The items contained in the news that coincided with the timing are not an integral part of the trade.”
Elias noted that he worked closely with Angelos, who remains in control of the team currently, on the Burns deal.
“Things have been brewing for months,” Elias said of the trade, where negotiations date back to December.
There were no clear public indications that the Angelos were about to sell the Orioles in January.
But the road has been in place for a long time. Twenty months before news of the sale was announced on Tuesday, legal documents – in a since-settled family lawsuit over Peter Angelos’ assets – revealed that it was his plan for his family to sell the club after his departure.
Angelos has been in poor health for years, and his wife, Georgia, is legally empowered to make decisions on his behalf. Documents from 2022 said it had retained Goldman Sachs and Jones Day to provide investment banking and legal services in connection with a potential future sale. These two firms are now advising the Orioles on the deal.