The troubled Tribune Company will be reeling in $845M in exchange for one of Major League Baseball’s most storied franchises, the Chicago Cubs and other goodies. The Ricketts family will be acquiring a 95% stake. Trib keeps the other 5% and its WGN-AM retains broadcast rights for the team’s games. Meanwhile, COO Randy Michaels called reports that Tribune may soon be liquidated absurd.
In addition to the baseball team, the buyers get Wrigley Field and Tribunes 25% interest in Comcast SportsNet.
“This joint venture will provide dedicated, local family ownership and management for the team,” commented Tribune Chairman Sam Zell. “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.”
Michaels made his remarks in a memo to employees. He said that regardless of what changes are coming in Tribune’s ownership structure, the company still has value – and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. He indicated that the current management team desires to stay on through the changes.
Rumors were rampant all last week that Zell was ready to abandon his option to acquire a 40% stake in the company and perhaps take a walk.
RBR/TVBR observation: They say time is money. In this case, money is time, and Tribune just bought some. Plus, with 5% of the team, Trib will still be able to bask in the glow of major league ownership.