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Report: Cubs' buyer lines up financing to close the deal
Daily Herald Staff Report

Tom Ricketts


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Published: 5/18/2009 1:36 PM | Updated: 6/1/2009 11:58 AM

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The buyer for the Chicago Cubs, investor Thomas S. Ricketts of Wilmette, has lined up three banks to complete the $450 million financing his group needs to finalize his purchase of the franchise, according to a report published today by SportsBusiness Journal.

One person close to the family said that the three banks are JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America.

The deal would allow Ricketts to submit his $900 million bid to the court now overseeing the bankruptcy filing of the current Cubs owner, Tribune Co.

Ricketts is putting up $450 million of equity his family amassed with its TD Ameritrade fortune to buy the team, Wrigley Field and the club's 25 percent interest in Comcast SportsNet Chicago.

However, in a report by Crain's Chicago Business, its sources say the Ricketts family now believes the real price should be closer to $850 million. There is some disagreement over the value of the team's multiyear contract to broadcast games on WGN, according to the Crain's report.

While broadcasters pay sports teams for the right to air games, the contract between the Cubs and WGN might have been set too low, given that both entities have been owned by the Tribune Co.

Ricketts and a Tribune spokesman decline to comment to Crain's reporters.

The Cubs have been on the market since April 2007 as part of Sam Zell's $8.2 billion purchase of Tribune Co.

The Ricketts family still plans to sell a small amount of preferred shares to individual investors after the team is sold. Thomas Ricketts is the CEO of Incapital LLC, an investment bank that handles corporate bonds for retail investors. He also is a director of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation, and the son of Ameritrade founder J. Joseph Ricketts. The family bid, led by Thomas, includes his parents and three siblings: Peter, Laura and Todd.