The Cubs are almost sold

The most protracted sale in the history of team sports is rounding third and racing, er, jogging, er, kind of shuffling for home!

Chicago Cubs buyer Tom Ricketts is close to lining up three banks to arrange the $450 million financing necessary to complete his acquisition of the team, financial sources said, positioning him to clear a substantial hurdle in the long-running sale of the club.

JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Bank of America are set to commit to the deal as soon as the end of this week, the sources said. That commitment would allow Ricketts to submit his $900 million bid to the court that’s overseeing the bankruptcy filing of current Cubs owner Tribune Co. The court likely then would take 30 to 45 days to process the offer, one source said, leaving a potential closing ready by July.

MLB at that point could wait until its August owners meeting to approve the deal or could call a special owners meeting to address the sale earlier.

It’s big and complicated and involves three banks and seemingly unsupportable debt, so it’s basically the business equivalent of turn-back-the-clock night. Instead of retro jerseys, the guys closing the deal will wear three-button suits and carry separate cell phones and PDAs. One other retro flourish:

Ricketts has been trying to sell preferred notes in the team to raise another $50 million. These so-called “perk notes” would give the individual lenders special access to games, team executives and spring training. The notes would be repaid after 15 years. Sources differed on whether Ricketts would succeed in selling the notes, with some saying there was interest and others describing it as a hopeless cause.

Given what has happened in Yankee Stadium this year, I can’t help but think that Ricketts’ attempt to sell such hyper-exclusivity is going to fail in spectacular fashion. Why would anyone want “special access” to Jim Hendry anyway? He doesn’t exactly give off a privileged, limited access vibe. Heck, I probably have even odds of running into him in the suit department at Kohl’s or on line at Burger King or something. He may actually be in the phone book.

In any event, almost-congratulations to the Cubs for nearly getting themselves purchased in a marginally sensible deal in a less than adequate time frame.

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  1. Craig Calcaterra said...

    George: we have standards around here. They fully allow for the use of the phrase “douche bag,” but they do strongly encourage the term’s users to explain why the subject of its use is, in fact, a douche bag.

    What, you own Kohl’s stock?

  2. Ben said...

    Excellent analysis George. Your ideas intrigue me, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

  3. George Edwards said...

    What’s the point in bringing Jim Hendry into this story, it serves absolutely no purpose.  That’s why you’re a Douche bag.  Most of the time I appreciate you commentary however, sometimes you take a diversion.


  4. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Hey, at least that’s a reason. Thanks, George.

    Here’s my reason for including him: the article mentions that, in order to entice people to make some substantial investments in the team, Ricketts is offering “special access” to team officials, one of which we can presume to be Hendry.  While my comments are admittedly snarky, I think it’s pretty legitimate to ask whether such an offer is truly so special that people should consider giving Ricketts the money to finance his team purchase in order to get it. 

    I may still be a douche bag, but at least we both now have all of our cards out on the table about it.

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