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Investment bankers' role is assessing team's value

By HELEN HUNTLEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 28, 2001


It's hardly as lively as color commentary on starting pitchers and stolen bases, but the Rays weren't talking baseball. They were talking corporate finance when they announced Friday:

"Discussions are under way to retain an investment banker to advise the Tampa Bay Devil Rays ownership group regarding strategic alternatives including the possible sale of the team."

That's classic corporate-speak for "We're shopping our company on the market to see what we can get for it."

Investment bankers are dealmakers, raising money for corporations and municipalities. They are best known for underwriting new issues of stocks and bonds, which are resold to investors through a network of participating brokerage firms.

Bankers also may be hired to find a buyer to purchase an interest in a company -- or the entire company. That apparently is the role they will be asked to take on for the Rays.

Central to the bankers' work is valuing a company's worth. If stock is being sold to the public, bankers set the initial offering price. If a potential buyer makes an offer for a company, bankers may be asked to evaluate the price and issue a "fairness opinion."

That could prove valuable in seeking new investors, or if some of the Rays' current owners hope to negotiate a price to buy out others.

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