Saturday, March 05, 2005
ain't that interesting... boston and... bin laden are on the move in 2005...?!?
And Bin Laden wants some more action...
Bin... sorry... Bain Capital Punishment... sorry... Capital Partners LLC and Game Plan LLC concocted their "NHL takeover" machiavellian plans about the same time our man Osama there was pondering his own brand of takeover (or merely mayhem-spreading) plans... Coincidence?
But it is fun to mock the big money makers' moves in juxtaposition to the fanatics' own manigances...
To buy the NHL for 3 billion plus NOW is truly foolish (the NHL is DEAD people!) - although I would like to see BOSTON control the entire league - if that's what it takes to give the Bruins a decent chance to fulfill the potential of Shoeless Joe Thornton and Sergei "I met my Delilah" Samsonov...
As for Osama, attacking a prepared USA now makes as much sense as seeing a fleet of kamikaze mosquitoes launching a campaign against an elephant whose trunk is full of water and ready to spurt them all into oblivion...
BOSTON (AP) - Two Boston companies have offered NHL owners a way out of their labor woes: Sell the entire league - pucks, Penguins and penalty boxes - for more than $3 billion.
Bain Capital Partners LLC and Game Plan LLC made the proposal on Tuesday in New York, where NHL owners were meeting to discuss their next step in the lockout that canceled the entire 2004-05 season. The offer received an icy welcome.
"I don't think it's realistic, and I don't think there's much interest, and I know there's no interest on the part of the Bruins," said Jeremy Jacobs, whose Delaware North Cos. owns the Boston team, its building, part of its TV broadcaster and the concession contracts for several NHL clubs. "And I think it takes 30 (team owners) to do it."
The Toronto Star and Globe and Mail reported Thursday that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman invited the two Boston companies to present the offer. If accepted, the league would become a single entity, an ownership structure where most decisions are dictated by the central office and the teams have the autonomy of a fast food franchisee.
Sports leagues structured in that way - Major League Soccer and the WNBA among them -have been able to avoid some antitrust scrutiny in the courts, and that can translate into greater power in labor negotiations. But it's never been tried with a borderline major league with a strong union, and smaller single entities like the XFL and the WUSA have failed.
Steve Ross, a sports law professor at the University of Illinois Law School, said courts would want to examine whether the new arrangement stifled competition.
"If some investment firm wanted to buy Ford and General Motors and Honda and Toyota, that would be illegal," he said. "I think that would be a huge problem for them."
Steve Pagliuca, Bain's managing director and a part-owner of the Boston Celtics, did not return e-mails seeking comment. Game Plan recently acted as an adviser on the sale of the Ottawa Senators.
Mired in a lockout since Sept. 16, the NHL last month became the first major North American pro sports league to cancel an entire season. The league has said its teams have lost a collective $500 million over the past two seasons.
Before the work stoppage, the total value of the 30 NHL franchises was estimated by Forbes Magazine at $4.9 billion. The Detroit Red Wings topped the list at $266 million, with the Edmonton Oilers last at $86 million. The value of team-owned arenas was part of the assessment.
An offer of between $3 billion and $3.5 billion would translate to between $100 million to $117 million per team.
"What it does say is that there are people out there that see much more potential and value in hockey if the league is run properly," said Andrew Zimbalist, a Smith College professor who specializes in the business of sports. "They think the asset value of the franchises has been so depreciated by mismanagement and the lockout that there's an opportunity to get a bargain."
But the offer has several problems from the start.
First, the outgoing NHL owners would have to agree on how to divide the money, and big market owners might feel that their franchises were undervalued. "Even if it is a good deal for the league as a whole, I think owners are not going to be able to agree how to split up the spoils," Ross said.
A bigger problem is that, by selling their hockey team, owners who also own their buildings or networks might be selling off the synergy that makes the whole thing profitable.
"No independent offer for all their hockey assets can realize the full value of their leverage," Ross said. "It sort of proves what (union head) Bob Goodenow has been saying all along: If that was the only source of income, the owners should like the idea. But the amount of income they derive from hockey is significantly in excess of that."
And, though selling out would relieve the current owners of their labor headaches, the buyers still have to negotiate a labor contract with the NHL players' association.
"Goodenow is going to be no more favorably disposed to make a deal with a single entity than to make a deal with Bettman," Zimbalist said. "I think he would be more resistant."
The Globe and Mail said Bain and Game Plan could make the deal work by generating more local television, sponsorship and revenue instead of competing against one another. They reportedly told the NHL owners it had arranged for a large Canadian-based financier to join its efforts.
Bill Daly, the NHL's chief legal officer, issued a statement confirming that the companies offered to buy the league's 30 teams but declined further comment. He told the Globe and Mail that the league was compelled to listen to the offer.
"When someone's offering over $3 billion," he said, "we felt we had an obligation to the board to have them, at least, hear it from the proposed purchaser."
NHLPA senior director Ted Saskin declined to comment on the offer.
"Given that I have no firsthand knowledge of what was proposed, and since the NHL has expressed no interest in pursuing the offer, I see no reason to comment on it," Saskin said.
By LARA JAKES JORDAN and KATHERINE SHRADER
WASHINGTON (AP) - Osama bin Laden is enlisting his top operative in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to plan potential attacks on the United States, U.S. intelligence indicates.
Al-Zarqawi, who rivals bin Laden as the nation's public enemy No. 1, has been involved in attacks in the Middle East but has not been known before to have set his sights on the United States.
The Homeland Security Department issued a classified bulletin to officials over the weekend about the intelligence, which spokesman Brian Roehrkasse described Monday as "credible but not specific."
The intelligence was obtained over the past several weeks, officials said.
The United States has no immediate plans to raise its national terror alert level, Roehrkasse said. However, the intelligence "reiterates the desire by al-Qaida and its associates to target the homeland," he said.
Bin Laden was in contact with al-Zarqawi within the past two months in an effort to enlist him in attacks, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. The move may reflect the al-Qaida leadership's desire to involve al-Zarqawi in activities outside Iraq, the official said.
Events in Iraq, officials noted, have limited al-Zarqawi's ability to undertake attacks elsewhere.
Al-Zarqawi is blamed for scores of attacks in Iraq and pledged allegiance to bin Laden and the al-Qaida network last year. Yet he has had differences with bin Laden, and his efforts are considered somewhat distinct from central al-Qaida operations.
Another administration official with access to the Homeland Security Department's bulletin said the intelligence indicates that al-Qaida has continued to encourage al-Zarqawi, who was born in Jordan, to get involved in terrorist actions against Americans outside of Iraq - including in the United States.
"The intelligence continues to be analyzed by the intelligence community and all appropriate information will be passed on to homeland security partners," Roehrkasse said. "The department has no plans at this time to raise the threat level based on this nonspecific information."
DHS sent the bulletin to state homeland security directors. A Justice Department official said the FBI was not involved, and that the information that led to the bulletin was gleaned by CIA intelligence.
Al-Zarqawi has a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head and is believed to have orchestrated a wave of car bombings, kidnappings, assassinations and beheadings across Iraq. He has run an increasingly dangerous, but diffuse, network of operatives in Iraq known by a number of names. Al-Zarqawi is blamed largely for attacks in the Middle East, including numerous attacks in Iraq and foiled plots targeting U.S. and Israeli targets in Jordan at the millennium.
In October, he made a first-ever pledge of loyalty to bin Laden, by posting a message on a Web site known for carrying militant Islamic content. At the time, U.S. officials believed al-Zarqawi was hoping to appeal to a larger audience and adopt bin Laden's broad objective to attack the United States.
Bin Laden, who is believed to be hiding on the rugged border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, is thought to communicate with his deputies by courier, taped messages and other means. In January 2004, Kurdish forces in Northern Iraq detained one courier, Hassan Ghul, who was carrying a letter written by al-Zarqawi to bin Laden. In it, al-Zarqawi proposed trying to start a civil war between Iraq's Sunni and Shiite Muslim populations.
Last year, the Jordanian government also stopped a Zarqawi-linked plan to use chemicals and explosives to blow up Jordan's secret service agency, the prime minister's office and the U.S. Embassy.
The Jordanians are also after al-Zarqawi, for whom they issued a death warrant and who was convicted last year for assassinating U.S. aid worker Laurence Foley in Amman in 2002.
At a Senate hearing this month, CIA Director Porter Goss warned that al-Zarqawi has "sought to bring about the final victory of Islam over the West." Goss said al-Zarqawi hopes to establish a safe haven in Iraq from which his group could operate against "'infidel' Western nations and 'apostate' Muslim governments."
AP Military Writer Robert Burns and AP Writer Mark Sherman contributed to this report
RE: bin Laden, et al: One wonders what the U.S. government has done now, that they want to deflect attention away from themselves before people catch on!