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Roy Tucker
01-06-2006, 10:04 AM
Looks like Jan. 20 is the date Castellini et al take over...

http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060106/BIZ01/601060430/1002/BIZ

Friday, January 6, 2006
New Reds owners to get 75%
Lindner, other current holders to retain small stake

By Cliff Peale
Enquirer staff writer

The new owners of the Cincinnati Reds will likely take control Jan. 20 after buying a stake of about 75 percent, worth about $120 million, in baseball's oldest professional team.

A group headed by Bob Castellini, Tom Williams and Joe Williams has received all the Major League Baseball approvals for the sale, except a final vote by team owners. They originally hoped to schedule that vote before Christmas, but it now appears that owners will approve the sale at their regularly scheduled meetings Jan. 19 in Phoenix.

Current owners Carl Lindner and Bill Reik will retain minority units worth about 8 percent each, and George Strike and Louise Nippert will retain about half that amount each, multiple sources close to the talks said.

Castellini will succeed Lindner as the chief executive officer.

Castellini and the Williams brothers will be the managing members, holding operating control of Cincinnati Reds LLC.

The ownership isn't completely set, and the ownership percentages still could change. Castellini's group could sell small units in his group to other investors even after the deal closes.

It's unclear exactly how much of the club Castellini will own personally.

But it is clear that Castellini will be the public face of the Reds ownership and will handle all dealings with the commissioner's office and other owners.

Long heritage

That will continue a Reds ownership heritage that extends back 136 years, including such Cincinnati icons as Powel Crosley, Bill DeWitt Sr., Marge Schott and Lindner.

Citing MLB rules, the new owners have refused to discuss the purchase since they announced the deal in early November. But sources on all parts of the deal have painted a picture of a smooth transition that will start immediately after the Castellini group takes control.

There already have been some changes, implemented by Reds chief operating officer John Allen and general manager Dan O'Brien. Baseball rules prohibit the new group from having any operating input until the sale is final.

O'Brien traded first baseman Sean Casey to the Pittsburgh Pirates and re-signed several Reds veterans.

Radio salesman hired

The Reds also have hired Bill Reinberger, the former general sales manager at WLW-AM, as the club's director of corporate sales. And the team has talked with former Reds manager Lou Piniella, although it does not appear he will take a formal role with the club.

When they announced their purchase of the Reds, the Castellini group said it valued the entire Cincinnati Reds LLC at about $270 million. Since the Reds have outstanding debt of about $110 million, that leaves the team with an equity value of about $160 million.

E-mail cpeale@enquirer.com