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UPDATE 1-Tribune may have Cubs file bankruptcy-sources
July 13, 2009 / 4:25 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Tribune may have Cubs file bankruptcy-sources

(Adds details, background, bullet points, byline)

* Cubs may file bankruptcy to speed sale-sources

* Team could exit bankruptcy quickly-source

By Ben Klayman

CHICAGO, July 13 (Reuters) - The Chicago Cubs baseball team may file for Chapter 11 in order to speed its sale by bankrupt media company Tribune Co TRBCQ.PK, two sources familiar with the process said on Monday.

“It’s pretty certain that they will do it,” said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified because the sales process is continuing.

Such an approach would likely be taken to ensure the storied baseball team and related assets are free of liabilities so as to speed a sale, said the other source, who also asked not to be identified. Tribune filed for bankruptcy last December, but the Cubs were not part of that filing.

“I assume it will be a quick in and out,” the first source said, adding the team could emerge from bankruptcy in anywhere from weeks to days.

Tribune Co spokesman Gary Weitman declined to comment.

The company has reached an agreement to sell the Cubs, their home park of Wrigley Field and a stake in a regional sports cable network for slightly less than $900 million to the Ricketts family, sources previously told Reuters. However, the company also remains in talks with a second group led by private equity investor Marc Utay, sources have said.

Weitman reiterated on Monday that Tribune has not reached a deal with any group.

A third source familiar with the sales process said Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), Citigroup Inc (C.N) and JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) -- the banks involved in the bid by Tom Ricketts, CEO of Chicago investment bank Incapital LLC and son of the founder of TD Ameritrade Holding Corp (AMTD.O) -- have begun calling to syndicate that group’s loan.

Tribune Co filed for bankruptcy in December due to its heavy debt load and the weak U.S. publishing sector. It put the Cubs, the team’s famous Wrigley Field home and a 25 percent stake in a local sports TV network on the block in April 2007, when Tribune agreed to an $8.2 billion buyout led by real estate magnate Sam Zell.

Buyers are eager to take control of the National League team, which despite not winning a World Series title since 1908 has a huge fan base helped by its “lovable losers” image and national exposure on cable TV. (Reporting by Ben Klayman; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Matt Daily)

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