Hicks willing to sell control of Rangers

NEW YORK -- Tom Hicks is willing to give up control of baseball's Texas Rangers if the right deal comes along but he intends to keep the NHL's Dallas Stars.

Hicks said in late March that he was seeking minority investors to purchase up to 49 percent in each club. About a week later, the holding company that owns the teams, Hicks Sports Group, defaulted on about $525 million in loans. Hicks said he intentionally made the move to help negotiate with banks.

"With the right partners, I would be willing to sell a controlling interest in the Rangers," Hicks said on Thursday in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Not so with the Stars."

Hicks retained Raine, a new company formed by former Goldman Sachs banker Joseph Ravitch, to find investors. Ravitch and partner Jesse Jacobs will search jointly with Merrill Lynch and Shelly Stein, who have been advising Hicks.

"My family and I want very much to stay involved with the club, but we understand that we may have to be open to solutions that may include partners who own a controlling interest in the Rangers," Hicks said in a statement. "That is not our preference, but there are some potential buyers who won't consider having only a minority interest. Personally, it's a difficult issue for us, however, we must look at those alternatives because that's in the best interest of the franchise, the fans and everyone associated with the Rangers."

Forbes last month valued the Rangers at $405 million, 15th among the 30 major league teams. Hicks said a timeline for the process will be established.

"Although we don't know the end result, I don't want any of this to be a distraction to the team or our fans," he said. "Our family is pursuing the best strategic alternatives for the Rangers, and we will work to keep everyone informed on our progress."

Hicks bought the Stars in 1996, and the team won the Stanley Cup three years later. In 1998, he purchased the Rangers from George W. Bush's group and Hicks created a stir in December 2000 when the Rangers signed Alex Rodriguez to a $252 million, 10-year contract. Hicks has said he owns 95 percent of both teams.

Two years ago, he combined with Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett Jr. to buy the English soccer club Liverpool through a different entity.