Results tagged ‘ Tribune Co. ’

10/28 Zell bids goodbye to Cubs

The Ricketts family will be introduced on Friday at Wrigley Field as the new owners of the Cubs. They purchased the team, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent share in Comcast SportsNet Chicago from Tribune Co. and Sam Zell for $845 million.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television, Zell was asked whether buying the Tribune Co. was the worst business decision he had ever made.

“It’s certainly the most amount of money I’ve ever lost in a single deal,” Zell said.

As for the Cubs, Zell apparently was unaware of Tuesday’s closing date. He did say he was happy for the Ricketts family.

“I think the team should be owned by somebody who is local, somebody who is really passionate about baseball,” Zell said. “I happen to be local. I’m not passionate about baseball, so I wish them all the best of luck. And maybe we’ll break the 101-year curse.”

— Carrie Muskat

10/13 Bankruptcy judge gives Trib go-ahead

The Ricketts family moved one step closer to being handed the keys to Wrigley Field. A U.S. bankruptcy court judge ruled Tuesday that the Tribune Co. and Cubs can proceed with the team’s $845 million sale to the Ricketts family.

“The Ricketts family is pleased that they’ve made another significant step toward taking majority control of the Cubs,” the family said in a statement. “They look forward to getting to work on leading the team to a championship.”

The bankruptcy judge had already cleared Tribune Co. to sell the team and Wrigley Field. The Cubs filed separately for Chapter 11 on Monday to protect the Ricketts so creditors in Tribune Co.’s own bankruptcy case would have no claim against the company.

The Cubs cited assets of $1.42 billion and liabilities of $1.26 billion, but the team’s finances weren’t in question. The bankruptcy filing was done to ensure the team can’t be hit with claims by Tribune creditors because the Cubs weren’t covered when Tribune filed for Chapter 11 last December.

The deal was expected to be completed by the end of October. The sale has been approved by Major League Baseball owners.

Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy in December but the Cubs and related assets were left out of the case so it could continue the sale process. On Aug. 21, Tribune Co. reached a deal with the Ricketts family, which would purchase the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago. Tribune Co. would retain 5 percent.

Tribune bought the Cubs in 1981 for $20.5 million from the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co.

The sale price will top the record $660 million paid for the Boston Red Sox and its related properties in 2002.

The Cubs’ bankruptcy filing is not the first for a Major League team. The Baltimore Orioles were sold in a bankruptcy auction in 1993 after owner Eli Jacobs filed for Chapter 11. The same happened to the Seattle Pilots after the 1969 season. The new owners moved the team to Milwaukee and changed the name to the Brewers.

The Phoenix Coyotes of the NHL filed for Chapter 11 protection in May.

— Carrie Muskat

10/12 Cubs file for bankruptcy

The Cubs filed for bankruptcy on Monday, a move designed to help the Tribune Co. transfer the team to its new owners. The Cubs are not in financial trouble; the move is connected to the Tribune Co.’s own Chapter 11 bankruptcy case that began in December.

Now that the Tribune Co. has finalized a deal to sell the team to the Ricketts family, it is passing the Cubs through bankruptcy court to give the new owners comfort that creditors in the original case have no claim against the company. The Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy in December, and at the time, was $13 billion in debt.

The Cubs’ stay in bankruptcy is expected to last one day. The judge in the Tribune Co. case has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday.

The judge already has approved Tribune Co.’s transaction with the Ricketts family. Under the terms of the deal, the Cubs, Wrigley Field and 25 percent of Comcast SportsNet Chicago will be placed in a limited partnership, and the Ricketts will own 95 percent of that. Tribune Co. will retain 5 percent.

The Ricketts family will contribute $823 million to the partnership. Tribune Co. will receive about $740 million after taxes and other adjustments.

Once the bankruptcy judge clears the Cubs’ case, the Ricketts family was expected to close the deal by the end of October.

— Carrie Muskat


9/24 Bankruptcy judge approves Cubs sale

A federal bankruptcy judge in Wilmington, Del., has approved the Tribune Co.’s sale of the Cubs.

The judge on Thursday authorized Tribune to enter into transactions to sell the team to the family of billionaire Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade. The Ricketts family agreed to buy a 95 percent stake in the team and its Wrigley Field home for $845 million.

The deal also needs approval from Major League Baseball. Team owners are scheduled to meet in Chicago next month.

The Tribune plan calls for a separate bankruptcy filing by Chicago National League Ball Club, an affiliate not involved in the company’s Chapter 11 case. The CNLBC bankruptcy should last only a few days but is needed to ensure that sale is free of all liens and claims, and that contracts can be assumed and assigned.

— Carrie Muskat

9/18 Dunston has his say

Former Cubs shortstop Shawon Dunston has objected in bankruptcy court to the sale of the team because it owes him money to pay for a college education. In Dunston’s handwritten note, he said, “I, Shawon Dunston, being a former player of the Chicago Cubs from 4-9-85 – 10-5-95/4-5-97 – 10-4-97 am entitled to college scholarship funds obligated to me by the Chicago Cubs. To date, these scholarship funds have not been paid to me.”

Dunston was the Cubs’ first overall pick in 1982, selected out of high school.

The bankrupt Tribune Co., which owns the Cubs, has reached a deal to sell the team to the Ricketts’ family for $845 million. The deal must be approved by a bankruptcy court, and Dunston wrote to the judge to object.

Dunston, 46, who works for the Giants part time, told the Chicago Tribune Thursday night that a financial adviser told him to write the note.

“It was just a formality,” Dunston said. “When I signed the contract [in 1982], they said they’d pay for my college tuition if I ever went. It was part of my signing bonus but I never used it. My adviser asked me about it, and told me to send a letter by the 16th [of September], so that’s what I did. I have nothing against the Cubs.”

According to the Cubs, the contractural clause was standard for top high school players and amounted to $8,000 to $10,000.

“We are aware of Mr. Dunston’s concerns and are working to reach a satisfactory conclusion on this issue as quickly as possible,” Tribune Co. said in a statement. “We do not believe this will have any impact on closing of the Cubs transaction.”

Dunston told the Chicago Tribune the team doesn’t owe him anything. He missed two seasons because of a back injury and the team paid him well, he said.

“I love the Cubs and I’ll always be a Cub,” Dunston said. “If anything, I owe them something.”

— Carrie Muskat

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

8/26 Kenney to stay

Cubs chairman Crane Kenney will continue with the team after the sale to the Ricketts family is completed. WGN-TV also will continue as the primary over-the-air broadcaster of Cubs games.

Those moves were confirmed in court documents filed by Tribune Co. Kenney, now in his 16th season in the Cubs organization, will return, but his role was not spelled out.

The contract also says the Cubs will continue to broadcast games on WGN through 2022, though the Cubs are likely to shift more games to Comcast SportsNet. The Ricketts also received 25 percent of CSN in the deal to buy the Cubs and Wrigley Field.

— Carrie Muskat

8/21 Crane Kenney on Cubs sale

Cubs chairman Crane Kenney on the sale of the team to the Ricketts family: “The Cubs are encouraged Tribune and the Ricketts family have reached agreement on the transaction and see this as a very positive step toward the ownership transition.”
The Ricketts family 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 for $845 million. Tribune will retain a 5 percent ownership interest.
The sale still must go through bankruptcy court and also be approved by Major League Baseball owners, who have a November meeting scheduled for Chicago.
— Carrie Muskat 

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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