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Report: Disney May Sell at a Loss

Baseball: DuPuy says a team has dropped sale price more than $100 million. Source confirms he means Angels.


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Walt Disney Co. might be willing to take a significant loss in order to sell the Angels, a top major league official has suggested.

In an interview with Baseball America magazine, Bob DuPuy disputed the notion that owners can recoup operating losses simply by selling their teams for a profit and said that several franchises on the market cannot find buyers.

"We have one team that's been for sale for some time that has dropped the purchase price more than $100 million and still does not have a buyer," said DuPuy, baseball's president and chief operating officer.

DuPuy was unavailable to elaborate or otherwise comment on his remarks, but a highly placed baseball source confirmed DuPuy was referring to the Angels.

A source close to Disney, speaking on the condition of anonymity, denied the statement that the asking price has been cut by $100 million.

Disney asked $300 million for the Angels in sale negotiations three years ago.

Donald Watkins, the Alabama businessman interested in buying the Angels, has told Disney officials he does not believe the franchise is worth more than $200 million.

Commissioner Bud Selig said last week that he could not recall Disney asking for permission to share its confidential financial data with any other potential buyer in the last six months.

Disney paid $140 million to buy the Angels in 1996 and another $98 million to renovate Edison Field, so a $200-million sale price would not allow the company to recover those costs, let alone any operating losses.

The Angels reported losses of $100 million from 1995-2001, according to figures released by the commissioner's office.

Watkins' advisors and Disney officials are continuing to discuss how a bid could be structured to account for a potential player strike--the longer the work stoppage, the lower the purchase price.

Forbes magazine values the Angels at $195 million, but a long-term labor agreement could enhance the franchise value and attract other potential buyers.

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