News Corp. to Bid on Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars

Reports: Rupert Murdoch wants to protect Fox Sports TV rights

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation owns a lot of things – movie studios, newspapers, television stations — but, at this point, not a Major League Baseball or National Hockey League franchise.

That could change soon. On Wednesday, News Corp. is expected to enter a bid in the auction to buy the Texas Rangers, a bankrupt team that a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge ruled last week will be auctioned off on Wednesday so its current owner, Tom Hicks, can pay the $525 million he owes his creditors.

News Corp. is interested in the Rangers because Murdoch wants to “to ensure continued TV rights for its Fox Sports [Network] unit,” according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

The judge in the bankruptcy case said he would prefer to have Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg and current Rangers president Nolan Ryan – whose Greenberg-Ryan group has already submitted a bid –  buy the team.

Bids must start at $525 million, or $15 million above the current Greenberg-Ryan bid of $510 million.

Other suitors expected to place bids on Wednesday include Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who once tried to buy the Tribune Co.-owned Chicago Cubs.

Meanwhile, according to the Dallas Morning News, News Corp. has placed a bid on the Dallas Stars, an NHL franchise also owned by the Hicks Sports Group.

Last week, Hockey News reported that a Canadian businessman was close to agreeing to a deal worth $225 million to buy the Stars, but "several sources denied that report, with one NHL insider saying the reported price was too low."

Fox Sports’ current deals with both the Rangers and Stars expire in 2014.

In May, Murdoch hinted that News Corp. may make several investments this year, given the company's "growing air of confidence" about the economy and an abundance of cash on its balance sheet.