Fourth group interested in Orioles


A fourth investment group, led by the owners of a fast-growing electronics retailer, is exploring a purchase of the Orioles.

"We've contacted them looking to get the information to make a prudent business decision," said Douglas Jemal, a member of the investment group. The group includes Jemal, 48, and his brothers, Lawrence, 44, Marvin, 39, and Stephen, 36. Douglas Jemal declined to identify a fifth investor.

The four brothers each own 25 percent of Nobody Beats the Wiz Inc., a Carteret, N.J.-based company that has grown from a single Brooklyn stereo shop in 1976 to a $600 million-a-year chain of 52 stores throughout the mid-Atlantic.

The brothers first made inquiries to team owner Eli S. Jacobs about buying the team six months ago, but said they were told a deal had been struck with a group led by Cincinnati investor and Texas Rangers part-owner William O. DeWitt Jr., who is offering $140 million.

That deal, however, has been held up by Jacobs' financial problems. The New York investor is reorganizing under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code and any sale of his team will have to be approved by creditors and bankruptcy court.

Jacobs' April 19 bankruptcy filing convinced the Jemal brothers that the DeWitt deal was not a certainty, he said. The Jemals' interest in buying the team was first reported in The Washington Post.

Also interested in the Orioles is a group led by Baltimore lawyer Peter G. Angelos. It includes author Tom Clancy and contractor Henry Knott Sr. A New York art dealer, Jeffrey H. Loria, also has said he is interested in buying the Orioles.

The next step in the sale process could be for Jacobs to ask the bankruptcy judge to approve the sale of the team to a group of his choosing. After that, Judge Cornelius Blackshear could schedule a hearing at which Jacobs' creditors and other investors might voice opposition to the offer.

Based on news reports he has read, Douglas Jemal said he thinks the team could be worth $150 million and the investors are prepared to pay cash. But he said they are waiting for financial information to be sent before deciding to bid or not.

All four brothers grew up in New York and Douglas Jemal said he is the lone Orioles fan among a family of Yankees boosters. He began rooting for the Orioles when he moved to the area 28 years ago, he said.

Although it has stores in Washington, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, and Virginia, Nobody Beats the Wiz is concentrated in the New York City area, where it is known for steep discounts and attention-getting, multimillion dollar promotions.

The company has emerged in recent years as the top electronics retailer in New York.

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