Bob Ryder calls for 'criminal investigation' of WCW sale

Tom Zenk

WWF's end of fiscal 2001 report (released 7/28) notes that all of the intellectual properties and assets of WCW including the trade name, tape library and other intangible assets were sold by AOL- Time Warner for a staggeringly low $2.5 million.

This is despite an offer from Bischoff/Fusient Media Group for $48.3 million, just days prior to the sale to WWF.

The Fusient offer included a $5 million deposit  - so, even if the deal had collapsed, TBS would have picked up double what they've now got from Vince.  Moreover, Fusient had agreed to take over every contract - relieving AOL-Time Warner of more than $15 million in salary payouts.

Instead, as thing now stand, Time Warner will be paying Goldberg more in one year than all the money they got from the sale of WCW.

When I raised questions about  the attempted Fusient buyout last December, I was personally attacked by Bischoff's front man Bob Ryder. This week, Ryder claims  "Tom Zenk, who I took shots at for his comments about the Bischoff/Fusient buyout attempt ... had an excellent analysis of the [WCW sale] situation a couple of weeks ago. He's absolutely right about the things he said about Siegel."

Ryder now claims "There should be criminal investigation into the entire thing. Firing Siegel isn't good enough. His actions raise enough questions that the authorities should take a look at exactly how this thing went down."

"Siegel sabotaged his own company"


According to Ryder (1 Monday, July 30, 2001) --

(1) "Brad Siegel took steps to make sure the company was of no value to anyone except the WWF."

(2)  "While Fusient was still at the negotiating table [and negotiating in good faith], Siegel was contacting his friend Stu Snyder at the WWF to figure out what needed to be done to make sure the WWF got the deal." According to Ryder, Siegel and  " Stu Snyder (the top WWF exec who brokered the deal) were friends and co-workers when Snyder worked with Time Warner. It is widely believed that Siegel offered the job of WCW President to Snyder near the end of the Busch era, but that Snyder turned it down and went to work with the WWF."

(3) "When it became obvious that the only way the WWF could get back in the hunt to buy WCW would be if the shows were cancelled...that's exactly what Siegel made sure happened."

(4) " Siegel sabotaged his own company by convincing Kellner to cancel the shows.He did that AFTER he made a call to Stu Snyder and found out the only way he could make a deal with the WWF was to cancel the shows." "Once the shows were cancelled, that narrowed the potential buyers to one."

(5)"The Fusient offer was still on the table until the shows were cancelled."

(6) "There were at least four offers from people who were willing to pay much more than the WWF paid..... A group headed by former WCW exec Jay Hassman had tried several times to be included in the bidding, and they were ignored repeatedly."

"Not in best interests of stockholders.."

The nub of Ryder's argument is that whatever Siegel's reasons for getting rid of WCW to WWF - "Siegel's actions weren't in the best interest of stockhoders..."

"How stupid do you have to be not to realize that it's a better business decision to take an offer of say $20 million with $5 million paid upfront in cash as opposed to a deal totalling $2.5 million that leaves you liable for $15 million in salary to people who will be sitting home taking paychecks for three years?"

"The way Brad Siegel handled the company was at best inept leadership. At worst it was criminal. It wouldn't shock me to see the real story surface one day, and when it does it won't be pretty" says Ryder.

The "whole story" and the "best interests of stockholders" are matters on which the SEC may now be asked to ajudicate.

According to Ryder - " There has been a growing sense of outrage as information starts to confirm what was suspected, and I know of several people who are consulting lawyers." ( July 31, 2001 - 09:21 am)


In an interesting aside Ryder ( July 31, 2001 - 11:55 am) notes that

(1) "Snyder and Siegel kept in close touch and what a lot of people forget is that Bischoff was close to finalizing a deal to buy WCW in October of last year, only to have the WWF come in and make rumblings that they wanted the company. The first attempt at a purchase was blocked when Viacom refused to allow the deal to go through. That's when Bischoff came back with the Fusient offer, only to have the deal deep-sixed by Siegel's behind the scenes moves he made on behalf of Snyder and the WWF."

(2) WCW gave Jerry Jarrett all the information he needed to make a bid but Jarrett was stonewalled by WCW. Ryder claims it wasn't Bischoff who did the stone walling -

"Early in the year, before Busch left...Jarrett was brought in to meet with Siegel. Several things were talked about, and Jarrett let Siegel know that he would be interested in buying the company if it ever ended up being put up for sale. When it became obvious that the company was going to be sold, several groups started trying to put deals together. ....Jarrett received virtually every important financial document needed to put his deal together, and still has those documents. My conversations with Jarrett were always along the lines of his wanting to make sure the company was bought by someone other than Vince McMahon.He [Jarrett] was stonewalled...but ultimately it was in favor of Vince McMahon, not Eric Bischoff. When Siegel pulled the trigger on the deal, he ended up blowing everyone else out of the water so McMahon was the only one who could buy it. Jarrett was being represented by one of the top investment bankers in the country, and Siegel refused to return his calls. (Bob Ryder Tuesday, July 31, 2001 - 07:39 pm)

More to come ......

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