Comcast to bid for Houston sports network if court forces sale


By Tom Hals

Sept 30 (Reuters) - Comcast Corp is prepared tobid if it can force a sale of the financially troubled,regional-sports network that carries the games of the HoustonAstros baseball team and the Houston Rockets, the city'sbasketball team, court papers show.

Affiliates of Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal, on Fridayfiled for involuntary bankruptcy against Houston Regional SportsNetwork LP, and said in court papers the network should be putup for sale for the benefit of creditors.

Comcast "believes the network's assets have meaningfulvalue, and would be prepared to make a bid to acquire either thenetwork (under a plan of reorganization) or substantially all ofits assets," the media conglomerate said in court documents.

Comcast also said that it wanted the court to appoint atrustee to replace the network's management, which is at a"complete impasse," according to court documents.

The network's three-member board consists of representativesof Comcast, the Houston Rockets of the National BasketballAssociation and the Houston Astros of Major League Baseball,according to documents filed by a Comcast affiliate.

The network has been locked in a dispute with cable andsatellite television providers over how much it should receiveper subscriber, which has limited the network's reach.

Comcast, which loaned the network $100 million through anaffiliate, also said it was prepared to provide the financingnecessary to keep the network operating until the bankruptcycould be resolved.

The Astros called the filing "improper," although the teamhad not been paid its media rights fees by the network for thelast three months, according to a Friday press release.

Creditors can put a company into bankruptcy involuntarily ifthey can prove the debtor is not paying its bills. The companygenerally has about 20 days to respond to the filing.

Creditors of Allied Systems Holding Inc, a major hauler ofcars for auto dealers that was majority owned by private equityfirm Yucaipa Cos, used an involuntary bankruptcy petition toforce the company into Chapter 11 last year.

The case is In Re: Houston Regional Sports Network LP, U.S.Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Texas, No. 13-35998

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