Hicks Creditors Block Debt Repayment Move

May 26 2010 | 10:08am ET

As expected, the Texas Rangers’ creditors, led by hedge fund Monarch Alternative Capital, don’t plan to make the baseball team’s bankruptcy proceedings smooth and easy.

The club filed for Chapter 11 protection on Monday, seeking to force its sale to a group of investors including team president and Hall-of-Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan. A judge in Fort Worth, Texas, gave the team the green light to conduct normal business operations and pay its employees, but complaints from the creditors caused U.S. Bankruptcy Judge D. Michael Lynn to postpone further decisions until today.

The Rangers had hoped to pay $75 million to cover its debt to Hicks Sports Group, its parent company, which defaulted on $525 million in debt last year, as first reported by FINalternatives. The move would have allowed the $575 million sale to a group led by Pittsburgh lawyer Chuck Greenberg to go ahead.

“They chose to file for Chapter 11 protection to avail themselves [of the entire debt]… and show no intentions of conducting a fair, transparent market search,” Dennis Dunne, a lawyer representing its four biggest creditors, including Monarch, told the judge. Monarch and the other creditors have been critical of the Greenberg-Ryan bid, calling it the lowest of the three finalist bids.

“Nothing will happen before July 1,” the judge said. “I want to accommodate the Rangers, but I want to do this right as well.”

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