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More Bidders Are Jockeying for Santa Anita

March 28, 1997|NANCY RIVERA BROOKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Just when it looked like Santa Anita Cos. was about to trot into the stables of an investor group that includes Newport Beach real estate mogul Donald Koll and financier Leon Black, it's become a horse race again: Santa Anita Cos. announced Thursday that it has received other proposals.

In a typically terse news release, the racetrack and real estate company said it has gotten "confidential, written proposals from several strategic and financial buyers" in addition to the combined bid announced last week for up to $230 million from previous rivals Los Angeles real estate firm Colony Capital Inc. and the team of Koll Co. and Apollo Real Estate Advisors, part of the New York investment firm run by Black.

A spokesman for the Koll-Apollo-Colony group said the investors were surprised that Santa Anita Cos. is entertaining new offers "that can't be as definitive or as well thought out as the proposal" from Koll-Apollo-Colony. That proposal expires today, and the group has no plans to extend the deadline, he said.

The boards of directors of the twinned Santa Anita companies--Santa Anita Operating Co., which runs the racetrack, and Santa Anita Realty Enterprises Inc., which owns the track and other real estate--on Thursday authorized special committees of independent directors and financial advisor Morgan Stanley & Co. to "commence a final round of negotiations with selected potential buyers," the company said.

Rumors have swirled at the Arcadia track that a Las Vegas hotel and gaming company might be ogling Santa Anita Cos. or that some wealthy horse owners might be crafting a bid out of fear that the new owners would close the racetrack. A spokesman for Santa Anita declined to name the new bidders or to reveal how many offers have been made.

The company's stock closed down 12.5 cents at $28 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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