Results tagged ‘ Tribune Co. ’

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

SBJ: Snag in Cubs sale

The Sports Business Journal has multiple sources saying the exclusive negotiating period between the Tribune Co. and Cubs bidder Tom Ricketts expired last month. The Tribune entered exclusive negotiations with Ricketts in January, when the company selected him over two other bidders to buy the Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25 percent stake in regional cable network Comcast SportsNet.

There was no comment from representatives for Ricketts or the Tribune.

According to the SBJ article, the problem appears to be the level of involvement Tribune’s WGN would have in the Cubs post-sale. WGN has been paying below market rates for broadcast rights to the games, and Ricketts wants that to change, sources said. The Tribune side has said that the terms bidders agreed to in November outlined WGN’s role, the sources said.

What is not at issue is Ricketts’ financing for the deal, the sources said. Another SBJ source expressed optimism a deal would be done soon, saying it would be hard for Tribune to go back out to the market looking for another buyer. Ricketts has his debt and equity lined up for the $900 million offer, though he is seeking up to a $50 million price reduction because of the WGN issue.

— 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

Ricketts seeking investors

Got some extra cash? The family chosen by Tribune Co. to buy the Cubs in a $900 million deal is seeking investors willing to pay $25 million for a preferred share of the team.

Chicago investment banker Tom Ricketts is seeking investors in an effort to raise at least $100 million toward the team’s purchase price, according to the Associated Press.

Ricketts is founder and chief executive of InCapital LLC and his billionaire family founded the Omaha, Neb.-based, TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. Tribune Co. selected the family’s bid Jan. 22 for exclusive negotiations for the Cubs. The sale would include Wrigley Field and a 25 percent interest in a regional sports network.

Any sale must be approved by baseball owners.

Investors being sought by Ricketts would hold a preferred share in the team and sit on an advisory board, but would not make any management decisions, according to the person familiar with the deal.

Now more than a century removed from their last World Series title, the Cubs were purchased by Tribune Co. from Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. for $20.5 million in June 1981. Tribune Co. put the team on the market on Opening Day 2007, when real estate mogul Sam Zell agreed to buy the media conglomerate.

Tribune filed for bankruptcy in December. The company — owner of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun and other dailies — is selling off assets as it seeks to raise cash to deal with debt.

— Carrie Muskat