Reds Limited Partners Sue Schott
CINCINNATI (AP) _ The Cincinnati Reds’ limited partners sued Marge Schott on Thursday for trying to sell her controlling interest to a group led by her cousin.
The limited partners contend they have the right to buy her shares because they matched an earlier offer from a group headed by Larry Dolan, the brother of Cablevision’s chairman.
The lawsuit means that the team’s future will be decided in part by a Hamilton County Common Pleas judge.
The limited partners contractually have the right to match any offer that Schott receives for her shares in the club. Schott agreed last November to sell rather than face another suspension from baseball.
Dolan’s group offered $65 million for all but one of Schott’s shares in February, and the limited partners notified Schott that they intended to match.
Schott told the partners on Monday that she intended to sell for more money to a group headed by Stephen Schott, a cousin of her late husband. The limited partners asked the court Thursday to block that proposed deal.
``The Steve Schott agreement was a transparent, legally invalid attempt to extract an additional $12 million from the limited partners and obtain a $2.68 million `commission’ for Steve Schott,″ the lawsuit said.
The limited partners asked Judge Robert Ruehlman to rule that Dolan’s offer was binding, giving the partners a chance to buy out Schott by matching it.
The limited partners filing the lawsuit are the Great American Insurance Co. owned by Carl Lindner; American Laundry Machinery Inc. owned by George and Anthony Strike; and William J. Reik.
Marge Schott could not be reached for comment Thursday at her home or office. A message was left at the Lansing, Mich., office of her lawyer, Frank Kelley. His home telephone nunber was unlisted.
Major league baseball has final say over whatever sales agreement emerges. Baseball is waiting for Schott to reach a final sales agreement before getting involved.
The Cincinnati auto dealer has controlled the Reds since December 1984, when she paid an estimated $25 million for her shares.
The current ownership agreement expires at the end of 2000, at which time the limited partners can oust Schott if she hasn’t already sold control of the team.
Schott, 70, owns 6 1/2 shares in the team, including the two that make her the managing partner. The limited partners own the other 8 1/2 shares.
The partners and their approximate holdings are Louise Nippert (2 1/4), Lindner (1 3/4), Strike and Reik (1 1/4 each), and the estate of Carl Kroch and The Gannett Co. (1).
``The limited partners are most interested in ensuring an orderly transition and the prosperity of the Reds organization, as well as ensuring that the legal rights under the partnership agreement are complied with,″ said James Burke, lawyer for the limited partners.
Burke said no hearing date has been set in the case.
Cincinnati Reds managing executive John Allen declined comment Thursday. Allen is running the Reds while Schott attempts to sell her shares.