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Shinn changed mind on Giants

In business deals, as in life, things change.

North Carolina millionaire George Shinn said 19 days ago the sight of the San Francisco Giants' financial records "won't make me back out of the deal" to buy the team, "no matter how bad they look."

Shinn even predicted profits, beginning next season.

Saturday night he backed out of the deal, saying it didn't make financial sense.

The team's books, handed over to Shinn and his San Francisco partners last week, were "worse than we expected," Shinn said. "We knew they'd be bad, but we didn't know they'd be disastrous."

Shinn would have shouldered most of the Giants' losses as part of the deal, and said he worried those losses could affect his successful National Basketball Association franchise, the Charlotte Hornets.

Still, it was unclear how and why Shinn left the group.

His top aide, Spencer Stolpen, said Shinn and his San Francisco partners mutually decided that a competitive answer to Tampa Bay's $115-million offer for the Giants was too risky.

But insurance executive Richard Goldman, one of the San Francisco investors, said the local partners had "some concerns" about Shinn's finances. Goldman added that Shinn's dealings with previous partners was in the "back of people's minds" in San Francisco, "although it never surfaced" in conversation.

"I think there's a greater comfort level working with people you know and have been connected with," Goldman said.

The fact that Shinn was "the new boy on the block" and did not have a history with the other investors "I think had something to do with it," Goldman said.

Stolpen said Shinn would have stepped aside if the San Francisco investors had wanted to proceed alone.

According to Stolpen, some members of the San Francisco contingent were not as enthusiastic as Shinn, while others dearly wanted to buy the team. A third contingent had to be dragged to the table, he said.

"As Thursday and Friday developed and we were proofreading the offer, there was this gnawing thing in the back of the mind saying, "Does this make sense?' " Stolpen said. "Friday night and Saturday morning the final decision was made."

_ Information from the Charlotte Observer and the San Francisco Examiner was used in this report.