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By Megan Davies and Ben Klayman
NEW YORK/CHICAGO, Sept 4 Final bids for the
Chicago Cubs will likely be due late September or early
October, two sources said on Thursday, as owner Tribune Co
seeks to sell the storied baseball team by the year end.
The next stage in the drawn-out sale of the team, its
landmark stadium and a cable TV network stake will be
management presentations starting next week to give bidders
more information on the assets, the sources said.
Those will likely take about two weeks, after which final
bids will be sought.
Tribune, which owns the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles
Times newspapers, put the Cubs assets on the block in April
2007 when it announced it would be bought by a group led by
real estate magnate Sam Zell. It is selling the Cubs to cut
debt it took on as a result of the leveraged buyout.
Zell said last month that of 10 groups that bid, five made
it through the first round for the package of assets -- the
Cubs, Wrigley Field and an interest in SportsNet Chicago.
Sources said those five include Tom Ricketts, chief
executive of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC and son of
the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp (AMTD.O); Internet
billionaire Mark Cuban; Marc Utay, a managing partner with New
York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC;
and Chicago real estate executive Hersh Klaff.
However, a group composed of Republican operative Fred
Malek and MVC Capital Inc (MVC.N) Chairman Michael Tokarz was
not one of the five remaining, according to one of the sources
and a third separate source.
That group was previously said to be among the final
handful. Sports Properties Acquisition Corp HMR.A, which had
been linked to the Malek group, is now in talks to possibly
join the Cuban or Klaff groups, said a fourth source.
The fifth bidding group is made up of a non-Chicago person
with sports experience and backing from wealthy investors, one
of the sources said.
Four separate bidders -- all real estate funds -- are vying
to buy just Wrigley Field alone, sources said.
It was originally hoped that a bidder for the team, an icon
due to its national TV exposure and a history of being "lovable
losers," would be picked in 2007, but the process has taken
longer than expected.
A year ago, sellers were sorting through tens of potential
bidders. Those were shaken out by a long process under which
each had to fill out an application form that was evaluated by
sellers and submitted to Major League Baseball for approval.
Last month, 10 groups bid for the assets, and the number
has now been reduced to five.
Once final bids are in, a winner will be picked and then
must be ratified by the owners of the other 29 baseball teams.
That could take one or two months, the sources said, meaning
the Cubs would have a new owner by around the year end.
It has been a dramatic year for the team, both on and off
The Cubs sit atop the National League's Central Division,
and have the best record in the 16-team league with a little
more than three weeks left in the regular season.
They have not won a pennant since 1945, and have gone 100
years since winning baseball's World Series.
(Additional reporting by Jon Stempel and Robert Macmillan in
New York; Editing by Braden Reddall)