8/20 Cubs sale

The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday the sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family is “imminent.” More than a month after Tribune Co. agreed to broad financial terms of a deal to sell the team to Tom Ricketts, the two sides apparently are close to completing the legal documents related with the transaction.

The completion of a definitive agreement would mean Tribune Co. would not be able to solicit any other bids for the team, sources told the newspaper.

Ricketts, a Chicago investment banker, is the son of Joe Ricketts, who helped create the Omaha-based online brokerage TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.

The Ricketts family has agreed to pay about $900 million for the team, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

According to the Tribune story, one of the main transactional documents lawyers on both sides have been working on is creating the limited liability company that would include Tribune Co. and the family. The company, which owns the Chicago Tribune, has desired such an ownership structure to shelter several hundred million dollars in capital gains that would be generated by selling assets the company has held through decades of growth. Tribune Co. bought the team and the stadium for about $20 million in 1981 from the Wrigley family.

Under the sale structure to the Ricketts family, Tribune Co. would retain about a 5 percent stake in the Cubs assets.

However, there’s still a long process ahead. After the sale makes its way through bankruptcy court, it would be put to a vote by Major League Baseball owners. Seventy-five percent of the league’s 30 owners have to approve a transfer of ownership.

— Carrie Muskat


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