DAVID RUBENSTEIN WANTS TO BUY THE O’S — WHY NOT THE NATS?

By Sam Bush

According to a report from Gillian Tan of Bloomberg:

Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein is in talks to acquire the Orioles, who are owned by the Angelos family.

Rubenstein may not be the only bidder, as the report states that he is “among suitors pursuing a transaction.”

Whether the Angelos family has pursued this or have merely been approached by prospective buyers isn’t clear, but there has been plenty of uncertainty in recent years about the future of the franchise.

Peter Angelos, now 94, was the principal investor of a group that purchased the franchise in 1993. After he collapsed in 2017 due to the failure of his aortic valve, larger roles were taken up by his wife Georgia and sons John and Lou. In June of 2022, reports emerged of infighting between the family about control of the club, with MLB approving John as the club’s “control person” in 2020. Multiple lawsuits were filed and the reporting of the legal battle revealed that Georgia had hired Goldman Sachs to look into a possible sale of the club. In February of this year, it was reported that the family members had reached an agreement to drop their lawsuits against each other. “I would say that there’s not a plan to change the principal ownership or the managing partnership and there would be no reason to,” John said on the matter in February.

In September, John Angelos and Gov. Moore announced a new 30-year lease between the club and the state, though this was actually misleading. Reporting from the next day revealed that they had merely signed a memorandum of understanding, which was legally non-binding. The lease is still set to expire on December 31 and recent reporting has suggested the two sides may have to sign a short-term extension of a year or perhaps even go month-to-month, per Hayes Gardner of The Baltimore Sun, while working out a longer deal.

To this point, it’s unclear if Rubenstein actually has a chance of acquiring the club or if he would approach any of the aforementioned issues differently. But if he were able to seal the deal and change the way the club operates, that would obviously be a franchise-altering development. It could also have ripple effects outside the O’s since they have an ongoing dispute with the Nationals over MASN and rights fees dating back to the Nats moving from Montreal to Washington in 2005. The Lerner family has been trying to sell the Nats in recent years but that MASN dispute has reportedly been a significant obstacle in doing so.

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