Results tagged ‘ Tom Ricketts ’

9/9 Business matters

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, federal antitrust regulators have approved Tribune Co.’s sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family. The approval appears on a Sept. 4 Federal Trade Commission list of pending mergers and acquisitions that have been cleared by antitrust officials. Analysts had not expected any antitrust challenge to the deal.

The clearance is another step in Tribune’s 2 1/2 year quest to sell the Cubs. It still needs approval from a bankruptcy judge and Major League Baseball owners.

The Ricketts family reached an agreement, announced Aug. 21, to acquire the team, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet for $845 million.

— Carrie Muskat

8/21 Cubs sale – update

The Ricketts family Friday signed a definitive agreement with Tribune Co. to acquire a 95 percent interest in the Cubs, Wrigley Field and Tribune’s approximately 25 percent interest in Comcast SportsNet (CSN) in a transaction valued at $845 million.

The Ricketts family will have management control of the joint venture as its 95 percent owner. Tribune will retain a five-percent ownership interest.

“Our family is thrilled to have reached an agreement to acquire a controlling interest in the Chicago Cubs, one of the most storied franchises in sports,” said Joe Ricketts, in a statement released by the Tribune Co. “The Cubs have the greatest fans in the world, and we count our family among them. We look forward to closing the transaction so that we can begin leading the Cubs to a World Series title.”

The Ricketts family reached the agreement with Tribune after a thorough bid process that began more than two years ago. Tribune intends to proceed to a final transaction close without soliciting further bids from other parties.

“This joint venture will provide dedicated, local family ownership and management for the team,” Tribune Chairman Sam Zell said. “The Ricketts family will be a great steward of the franchise. They have a strong respect for the team, for the fans and for what the Cubs mean to the City of Chicago.”

Final closing of the agreement is dependent upon approval by Major League Baseball owners and bankruptcy court approvals. As part of the court’s approval process, the entity holding most of the assets of the Cubs franchise will voluntarily file for Chapter 11 protection so that the franchise can emerge free and clear of Tribune Co.’s financial obligations. All obligations specific to the Cubs franchise — player contracts and agreements with sponsors, broadcasters, advertisers, suppliers and ticket holders — are not expected to be impacted by the court approval process, and there should be no interruption of team operations. The court is expected to rule on approval of the transaction early in the fourth quarter of 2009.

— Carrie Muskat


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


7/27 Money matters

According to the Wall Street Journal, bankers from J.P. Morgan Chase are hosting representatives of leading financial institutions at the Cubs’ game Tuesday. It’s an effort to syndicate about $450 million in loans that JPM, Citigroup and Bank of America are underwriting as part of financier Tom Ricketts’ efforts to buy the Cubs for nearly $900 million. Once the financing is complete, the Tribune Co., which has filed for bankruptcy and owns the Cubs, can submit the deal to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval.

— Carrie Muskat

7/7 Cubs sale, part II

Apparently Tom Ricketts isn’t the only one in the running to buy the Cubs. The Tribune Co. is apparently “working on a deal” to sell the team, Wrigley Field and other assets to a group led by New York investor and former Chicagoan Marc Utay.

“They are not as far along as the Ricketts family but making quick progress,” a source told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday.

It isn’t clear how Tribune Co. intends to coordinate what appears to be a new auction between the Ricketts group and Utay’s group. What is known is that the Ricketts family has been negotiating to buy the Cubs since January when Tribune Co. selected the family’s bid as its first choice after an auction that included Utay.

On Monday, the Ricketts family appeared to gain the upper hand, after it was learned that the family and Tribune Co. had sent documents over the weekend outlining a proposed deal to Major League Baseball. A second person familiar with the negotiations said Monday that the Ricketts family believed they had a “handshake deal” with Tribune Co.

Reuters news service reported Tuesday that Tribune Co. has agreed to financial terms with Utay’s group but a company spokesman said no agreements are in place.

“We have not reached an agreement on terms with any party,” Tribune spokesman Gary Weitman said.

An MLB source told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday that the league has not received anything from Utay or Tribune Co. regarding a potential deal between the two parties.

MLB officials have begun the vetting process regarding the Ricketts’ family. Tom Ricketts had bid $900 million to purchase the Cubs, Wrigley and Tribune Co.’s 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, a regional cable sports network.

— Carrie Muskat 


7/6 Cubs sale

The Cubs may have a new owner soon. According to the Chicago Tribune website, Tribune Co. apparently has reached a deal to sell the Cubs and Wrigley Field to the Ricketts family, a source familiar with matter said Monday.

The two sides finalized a sale agreement over the weekend and have forwarded the contract to Major League Baseball, the source told the newspaper.

The deal must be approved by other baseball owners. With Tribune Co. operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the sale also will need court approval.

The source said the sales price is “close” to the $900 million bid the Ricketts family offered earlier this year that won an auction for the baseball team, stadium and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, a regional cable television sports network.

 — Carrie Muskat

7/4 Cubs sale

An agreement between Tribune Co. and the Ricketts family regarding the sale of the Cubs could be completed in the next two weeks, according to a report Friday from David Kaplan, host of “Chicago Tribune Live” on Comcast SportsNet. Kaplan quotes a “good baseball source” as saying the deal is near completion. Major League Baseball owners must still approve the sale, and could do so at their August meeting.

Sports Business Journal reported in mid-May that Ricketts had agreements with JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America to commit to the financing needed to close his family’s $900 million purchase of the team. That commitment would allow Ricketts to submit his bid to the court that is overseeing the bankruptcy filing of the team’s current owner, the Tribune Co. The court would need 30 to 45 days to process the offer, according to the SBJ, and the deal could be closed by July.

The Cubs have been on the market since April 2007.

— Carrie Muskat

5/30 Cubs sale update

According to Crain’s Chicago Business, Tom Ricketts, who is leading his family’s bid to buy the Cubs from the Tribune Co., is closer to sealing the deal than recent reports suggest.

There was believed to be some disagreement over the terms of the team’s broadcast contract with Tribune’s WGN network that left the two sides as much as $50 million apart on the nearly $900-million deal.

Sources now tell Crain’s that both sides have made concessions on some of the key sticking points. The Ricketts family has had exclusive talks with the Tribune re: the sale since January.

The financing appears to be in place. J. P. Morgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Corp. and Bank of America Corp. have agreed in principle to loan the Ricketts family about $350 million, and Crain’s has learned that draft commitment letters are expected to be signed by next week. The balance of the funding will come from a $100-million private placement of notes and $403 million in cash the family generated when it sold stock of TD Ameritrade in February.

— Carrie Muskat

5/29 Cubs sale update

Tribune Co. chairman Sam Zell says the sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family is not a sure thing. In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Zell said: “We’ve made it very public that the Cubs don’t fit into the long-term picture of the Tribune. So if the Ricketts deal doesn’t get done, I’m sure there will be other ones.”

Zell told Bloomberg the credit market slump has contributed to the delay. “These are very difficult times,” he said. “These are difficult times to arrange financing.”

One of the issues still to be resolved is the value of the TV and radio contracts to broadcast Cubs games. The Ricketts family made a bid of about $900 million in January, and has raised $400 million by selling some of its shares in TD Ameritrade Holding Corp.

— Carrie Muskat

Big money Cubs fans

Tom Ricketts, who is trying to buy the Cubs, has reportedly talked to actor and longtime Cubs fan Bill Murray about investing in the team. Ricketts apparently also has contacted actors Jim Belushi and John Cusack about investing as well, according to a story in the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday.

Three banks have agreed to lend the Ricketts family $450 million to help finance its purchase of the Cubs, Wrigley Field and 25 percent share in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. The family also has raised money by selling some of its shares in TD Ameritrade. One of the holdups in finalizing the deal, however, is determining the value of the existing television and radio contracts to broadcast Cubs games, according to the Tribune’s story source. Industry observers have questioned whether the Cubs have received market value for the broadcast rights because the team and the TV and radio stations are owned by the same company.

— Carrie Muskat