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News and information about the sale of all or part of any of the 30 Major League Baseball clubs.

HICKS OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCES SELECTION OF GREENBERG/RYAN GROUP FOR NEXT STAGE IN SALE OF RANGERS PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 22:53

RangersAfter reports earlier that Hicks was on the verge of announcing the Greenberg/Ryan group as exclusive bidders for what could be the final step in the sales agreement, the Rangers have now made it official -- Maury Brown

Thomas O. Hicks said today that he will ask Major League Baseball to approve his decision to grant exclusive rights to negotiate the sale of the Texas Rangers to an investment group that includes legendary pitcher and current Rangers president Nolan Ryan and renowned Pittsburgh sports attorney Chuck Greenberg.  The announcement means the principals of Hicks Sports Group, the family company that owns the major league baseball franchise, and the Greenberg-Ryan consortium of investors will now work over the next thirty days to complete the transaction. During this period of time, a final purchase agreement will be negotiated and MLB ownership approval will be sought and HSG must also get approval from its lenders.

“Our family has chosen to negotiate with the group we believe will be best to protect and ensure the long-term positive future of this franchise,” said Hicks.  “We understand that this is more than a transaction.  You never really own a baseball team; you just have the right to be the trustee of a public institution.  Nolan Ryan is the personification of the word trust; he and Chuck worked diligently and relentlessly to get to this point.”

Greenberg’s group primarily consists of Dallas-Fort Worth investors. He said the Hicks family will retain a significant investment in the club and that Ryan will remain President of the Club.

“Tom and his family have owned the team for 11 years,” said Ryan.  They are passionate about the game and the team.  We will benefit from continuing to have Tom as a partner and have access to his business acumen and experience.”

Both Greenberg and Hicks declined to discuss the specifics of the final working ownership proposal.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” said Greenberg.  “The deal isn’t done yet, but I am confident we can complete this soon and have the Rangers well-positioned for the future.  We are committed to stability, continuing to work the baseball plan that’s in place, and doing whatever is necessary to build upon the team’s tradition and bring home a World Series championship.”

Hicks acknowledged that he understands the last year has been difficult for Rangers fans.

“I am most appreciative of the fans’ patience and support for the last year,” said Hicks.  “I know it’s been difficult, but this new generation of ownership is 100 percent resolved to excellence and a superior fan experience for the long term.”

Source: Texas Rangers


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Source: Greenberg Group Selected by Hicks for Texas Rangers PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 19:56

Rangers11:30pm - Hicks has made the announcement official. While Evan Grant said that the negotiating window for Greenberg/Ryan would be 45 days, the official release has the time period as 30 days.


9:30pm - Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that Greenberg has a 45 day exclusivity window with which to complete the sale. Interesting in that the window for the Cubs sale for Thomas Ricketts was set at 30 days, although that timeline was extended well past the announced window. It is possible, based on the Cubs sale, that should Greenberg run into issues closing the deal that the 45 day window could be extended, given that it is a self-imposed deadline.


8:15pm - Jeff Wilson of the Ft. Worth-Telegram is reporting that "Hicks has all but accecpted the bid" and T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com is reporting much the same. Official word has not yet arrived from the Rangers. More coming...


THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...

An unconfirmed source to The Biz of Baseball has reported that Tom Hicks has selected Chuck Greenberg’s bid over Jim Crane and Dennis Gilbert for the rights to enter an exclusive negotiating window to complete the purchase of the Texas Rangers. The selection of Greenberg does not mean that he will own the club, but does pave the way to reach a sales agreement with Hicks. If that sales agreement is met, it would then have to meet the muster of MLB’s Executive and Ownership Committees before needing approval from 75 percent of the league’s 30 owners to finalize the deal.

With Greenberg having Rangers president Nolan Ryan as a key member of his ownership group, with a solid core of local investors, approval for ownership transfer should be smooth sailing.

Details as to the total amount of the selected bid is not yet known. In a late day development, Greenberg’s group sweetened their offer to counter Houston businessman Jim Crane’s offer that was reportedly the highest of the three bidders submissions at the time. It is possible that while Crane’s offer could ultimately be higher, Hicks may have selected Greenberg due to his willingness to retain Hicks in a minority ownership capacity, as well as Ryan’s strong credibility, not only within the ownership ranks, but with fans, as well.

More details as confirmation arrives.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Hicks Expected to Make Announcement Tues. on Rangers Sale PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 17:53

RangersTom Hicks, the current majority owner the Texas Rangers, is expected to announce today his selection as the lead bidder for the purchase of the organization. In doing so, the bidder selected will have an exclusive negotiating window in which to close the sales agreement with Hicks. The news of Hicks planned announcement was first reported by the Dallas Morning News.

Multiple reports have come in that the group headed by Chuck Greenberg is sweetening their bid offer in an attempt to compete with Houston businessman, Jim Crane. Crane, once thought to be a non-contender, resurfaced over the last few days after reportedly offering more than Greenberg, or the other bidder, former agent, Bill Gilbert. If Crane were selected by Hicks, it is unclear on whether he would garner the requisite 75 percent vote by MLB’s 30 owners to complete the ownership transfer. Crane backed out of the purchase of the Houston Astros in the ‘90s at the 11th hour, something that still does not sit well within MLB’s ownership ranks.

(See profiles on each of the three bidders in the Rangers sale)

Look for a breaking news report, should Hicks make his selection on Tuesday


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Selig: Today "Hard and Fast Deadline" for Hicks on Texas Rangers Sale PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 15 December 2009 13:08

Rangers4:00pm - Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that, "Via email, current Rangers owner Tom Hicks said he would decide by the end of the day on a potential ownership group with which to begin exclusive negotiations on the sale of the Rangers."


Commissioner Selig said in a conference call that today was a “hard and fast deadline” for current Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks to make a decision on who would enter an exclusive negotiating window for the purchase of the club.

Selig said that the league had been pursuing today for notification by Hicks, “unless there are some factors, that frankly, need another day or two.”

The final three bidders include Pittsburgh attorney Chuck Greenberg, who’s group includes current Rangers president Nolan Ryan, former sports agent Dennis Gilbert, and Houston businessman Jim Crane, who was initially thought to be out of the running, but upon resubmitting his bid, is said to have jumped up as a frontrunner due to the high bid figure.

Selig mentioned that there had already been updates from Hicks this morning on the selection process, and that the sale process was nearing an end.

"Clearly, we are moving toward a conclusion to this process, one way or another."

More details on the sale of the Rangers forthcoming as they are made available.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Sizing Up the Sale of the Texas Rangers PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 14 December 2009 16:15

RangersWhether it is the Nationals, Braves, or the Texas Rangers, you can’t paint the sale of an MLB club with the same brush. Sure, some aspects are the same (approval process with the league often times has the same moving parts), but for the most part, each is its own animal.

The sale of the Rangers is an interesting study. Some have scratched their head on how current majority and controlling owner, Tom Hicks, can approve the sale in which he is considered to be part of one of the groups bidding on the franchise. Seems like a conflict of interest, right? Well, sort of.

Like the sale of the Cubs, the next stage in the process is to approve one of three bidders that will then enter an exclusive negotiating agreement to purchase the club. This doesn’t mean that the bidder who wins these rights is a lock to land the club. In the case of the Cubs, the Ricketts family had their negotiating window extended past the one month agreement, and even then, it wasn’t until rival bidder Marc Utay, a managing partner with New York-based private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners LLC, and his partner Leo Hindery were thrown back into the mix that the deal got hammered out to its conclusion; a bit of leveraging to get the deal completed.

Hicks could – repeat could – approve the final bidder by tomorrow. Self-imposed deadlines, even with Bud Selig and Co. pushing for the process to get completed well in advance of Spring Training, doesn’t mean it will. Still, the landscape as to who is involved and the politics behind the deal has settled in. Here’s the players:

Jim Crane – Crane was seen as having no chance to land the Rangers, but recently, he has resurfaced with a competitive bid. Crane made a stab at purchasing the Astros, making a verbal commitment to purchase the club in the ‘90s, but backed out at the 11th hour. That did not sit well with MLB. Given that the league has a long memory, nothing short of a bid that far surpasses the competitors has a chance. While that may seem like death knell, it isn't. Crane's bid is reportedly superior than the other three in play, and that coulld ultimatly push him over the top.

Dennis Gilbert – Gilbert is a former sports agent that made his fortunes in the insurance industry and would be the second former player agent to own a club, should he win the day (the other is Jeff Moorad, who was formerly with the Diamondbacks and is now CEO of the Padres, and is working toward controlling interest of the club). At one point, Tom Hicks was working on a partnership with Gilbert in which Hicks had hoped to retain controlling interest in the Rangers. Hicks backed off the negotiations to join with Gilbert earlier this month, opting for a lesser role in the bidding process. Gilbert has said that if he purchases the club, he will look to control the baseball operations, as well. As we’ll see, that point may kill him politically, although a deal with more money could push him over the top. He also has a powerful ally in White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdolf. Gilbert has consulted for the White Sox. Given how tight Reinsdorf and Selig are, it seems that the White Sox owner is lobbying hard for Gilbert.

Chuck Greenberg – Chuck Greenberg has current Rangers president, Nolan Ryan in his corner, which is a huge negotiating chip. Ryan aligned himself with Greenberg early on, and when news came that Dennis Gilbert would assume control of baseball ops, should he purchase the Rangers, that put Ryan in a lesser role. Ryan has said he will step down from the Rangers, should Gilbert be the winning bidder, something that has huge implications politically. Greenberg, the Pittsburgh sports attorney, has made it clear that if he wins the day, Ryan stays on as president of the Rangers. All things being equal, this aspect is the tipping point in the process. Ryan is seen as not only a Hall of Fame pitcher with an incredible legacy on the diamond, he’s also been successful as the principle owner in two minor league teams affiliated with the Astros (the Triple-A Round Rock Express of the PCL, as well as the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks).

Greenberg has owned three minor league clubs (he recently sold one), and has made attempts at NHL ownership, including the Penguins in ’99 and the Panthers in ’01, all of which bode well for Greenberg. Throw in that he has a solid investment group, and Greenberg is in good shape.

And the Winner Is…

We prefaced Greenberg’s profile by saying, “all things being equal”, which means Greenberg’s deal has to be on-par, or possibly the highest bidder in the process. A key aspect for Greenberg is that he has said that if he is the winning bidder, he will keep Hicks on as a minority owner, something that gives Hicks extra reason to focus on the bid.

However, the bottom line is the bottom line. Hicks is approx. $525 million in debt. We projected early on that the sale would be between $450-$550 million, and the top end of that range seems to be where the sale is headed. Crane would have to have a bid that is the highest, and most likely, by a considerable margin, to be considered the winning bidder, which late Monday, has been drifting about. Chances are, like Utay and Hindery with the Cubs, he is being brought in as a “ginning up” component.

Gilbert’s bid seems wrapped up in how Ryan factors in. The notion that a new owner would come in and not only run the business side, but play “Jerry Jones” is cetainly aggressive, maybe too much so for many of the owners in MLB. However, it’s the other Jerry, as in Reinsdorf, that could hold sway in the process.

The exclusive agreement with the final bidder may or may not come tomorrow, but look for a close one between Crane and Greenberg, with the us leaning toward the latter winning out, if his bid figure is competitive. He has Ryan in his court, a solid local investment group, and Hicks is retained in a minority capacity. It's all going to come down to money. On that... Expect the winning bid in excess of $500 million. We're projecting $530 million.


Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Sale of the Texas Rangers Could Come As Early As Next Week PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Thursday, 03 December 2009 22:08

RangersTom Hicks has been given a Dec. 15 deadline to accept a winning big for the sale of the Texas Rangers, but that decision could be announced as early as next week’s winter meetings with two final bidders in play.

Jon Heyman of SI.com did a lengthy piece on Weds. that paints former superagent  Dennis Gilbert as the surprise frontrunner. Heyman reported that, “In recent years he's raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for needy scouts through his Professional Scouts Foundation. His bid for the Rangers has been boosted by the support of baseball commissioner Bud Selig and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf. And, as happened many times in the past, Gilbert probably was underestimated in his efforts.”

The other bidder in the mix is Pittsburgh-based sports attorney Chuck Greenberg, who is partnering with current Rangers president, Nolan Ryan. That group also includes former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Roger Staubach.

The man that could be on the outside looking in is Hicks. With his Hicks Sports Group $525 million in debt, he is looking to sell the club to pay down that debt, yet looking to retain as much controlling interest in the Rangers as possible.

The latest attempt by Hicks to come up with an acceptable bid to retain control involved some creativity involved. As reported by the Dallas Morning News:

Since announcing two weeks ago that he was forming his own group to try and hold on to the team, Hicks has engaged in serious talks with Fox Sports about a contract extension of the club's broadcast rights, but, according to industry sources, those talks have come to a halt. The reason for the stoppage, according to those sources, is that Major League Baseball has balked at the contract extension that calls for an immediate injection of cash but could leave the team with lower TV revenues down the road.

[snip]

A new deal with Fox would probably make it easier for Hicks Sports Group to pay down debt but might still require Hicks to take on a partner to operate the club going forward. According to one source, Hicks has engaged the group headed by former agent Dennis Gilbert about a partnership that would allow the current owner to maintain a significant role in the club's hierarchy. Gilbert would probably become more heavily involved in the baseball operations side. A report on SI.com Wednesday tabbed Gilbert the front-runner for control of the club but did not mention the possibility of a partnership.

NOTE: The Biz of Baseball will be on the ground in Indianapolis for the Baseball Winter Meetings starting late Sunday night until Weds. evening. Look for first-account reports should the Rangers sale be announced.


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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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Ricketts Family Formally Introduced as New Owners of Chicago Cubs PDF Print E-mail
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MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Friday, 30 October 2009 13:48
Thomas Ricketts
Tom Ricketts, the new board chairman
of the Chicago Cubs.

Marking a return to family ownership, the Ricketts family today was formally introduced as the eighth ownership group in the 133-year history of the Chicago Cubs at a morning press conference at Wrigley Field.

On Tuesday, the family completed a financial closing to acquire a 95 percent controlling interest in the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and 25 percent of Comcast Sportsnet Chicago. Family members Pete, Tom, Laura and Todd Ricketts form the team's board of directors. Tribune Company will retain a five percent interest in the enterprise and will also have a seat on the board.

Tom Ricketts, 44, will serve as board chairman and issued the following statement:

"My family and I are thrilled this day has finally come. We share the passion of Cubs fans for the team and Wrigley Field and are eager to go to work building the championship tradition all Cubs fans so richly deserve.

"Building a consistent winning tradition on the field, while at the same time improving our 96-year-old ballpark, will not be easy and will not happen overnight. From the beginning, we will promote excellence and accountability within the organization at every level. Our family will reinvest all of the club's profits into the team and the ballpark for the foreseeable future.

The closing of the deal, valued at $845 million, completes a more than two-year effort that started when Tribune Company put the team, stadium and broadcast interest up for bid. On August, 21, 2009, the Ricketts family signed a definitive agreement with Tribune Company to acquire the assets. On October 6, Major League Baseball owners unanimously approved the transaction by a vote of 29-0.

The Ricketts family represents only the third Chicago Cubs ownership group in the last 90 years, 62 years of which were marked by family ownership. In 1919, the Wrigley Family, led by William Wrigley, Jr., purchased the Chicago Cubs from Charles Weeghman. The Wrigley Family retained ownership of the franchise until 1981, when the family sold the club to Tribune Company.

(For more info the Cubs sale, see The Biz of Baseball's MLB Club Sales archive)

Select Read More to see a complete history of the Chicago Cubs ownership

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SALE OF CHICAGO CUBS TO RICKETTS FAMILY COMPLETED PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 15:37

Sale of the Cubs

THIS IS BREAKING NEWS….

Mark Tues. October 27, 2009 as the day the controlling interest of the Chicago Cubs was officially sold from the Tribune Co. to the Ricketts family.

The $845 million deal, which includes the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago began on April 2, 2007 when Tribune announced that the assets would be up for sale at the conclusion of the 2007 season. Tribune finally reached a sales agreement with the Ricketts family in mid-August, with MLB’s owners approving the deal in early October ahead of the sale.

The Tribune Co. will retain a 5 percent minority ownership equity for tax avoidance purposes.

"My family and I are thrilled that this day has finally come and we thank Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball owners for approving our ownership," said Thomas Ricketts in a statement. "Now we will go to work building the championship tradition that all Cubs fans so richly deserve.

"It's fitting that this closing takes place during World Series week. Out of respect for the Fall Classic, and at the league's request, we will wait to introduce ourselves to the media and fans until this Friday, a travel day in the series between the Phillies and the Yankees."

The Cubs will hold a press conference on Friday to make the announcement formal.

 
BANKRUPTCY COURT APPROVES DETAILS OF CUBS SALE PDF Print E-mail
MLB Club Sales
Written by Maury Brown   
Tuesday, 13 October 2009 15:08

Sale of the Cubs

THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...

The sale of the Chicago Cubs from the Tribune Co. to the Ricketts family, which also includes Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, inched closer to reality as a Delaware bankruptcy court has given its blessing to the proposed sale transaction. The filing by the Cubs, and the court's approval prevents the Cubs transaction becoming part of the Tribune Co.'s separate Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection case.

The deal could be closed in as little as two weeks, according to Don Liebentritt, Tribune's general counsel.

The deal, in total, represents $845 million. However, with Tribune retaining a 5 percent ownership stake for tax avoidance purposes the final amount coming Tribune’s way will be $740 million.


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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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CHICAGO CUBS FILE CHAPTER 11 BANKRUPTCY PROTECTION PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 12 October 2009 12:56

Sale of the Cubs

THIS IS BREAKING NEWS...

In a technical move designed to hasten the sale $845 million sale of the Chicago Cubs from the Tribune Co. to the Ricketts family, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the Chicago Cubs have, as expected, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Cubs, themselves, have not filed, but rather to the newly created Chicago National League Ball Club LLC in which Tribune will retain a 5 percent ownership equity in the Cubs and the Ricketts family control a 95 percent.

The structure of the transaction is technically not a “sale” with Tribune continuing to own a minority stake. In what is called a “leveraged partnership”, Tribune would avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains taxes.

Filing for bankruptcy is being done to protect the transaction from any liens and claims as part of the Tribune Co.’s separate Chapter 11 proceedings. The LLC is not expected to be held up in the bankruptcy for more than a few days.

In advance of the sale agreement being completed, MLB's owners approved the ownership transfer via conference call earlier this month.

 


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Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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THIS IS BREAKING NEWS

In a technical move designed to hasten the sale $845 million sale of the Chicago Cubs from the Tribune Co. to the Ricketts family, Wrigley Field, and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, the Chicago Cubs have, as expected, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Cubs, themselves, have not filed, but rather to the newly created Chicago National League Ball Club LLC in which Tribune will retain a 5 percent ownership equity in the Cubs and the Ricketts family control a 95 percent.

The structure of the transaction is technically not a “sale” with Tribune continuing to own a minority stake. In what is called a “leveraged partnership”, Tribune would avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in capital gains taxes.

Filing for bankruptcy is being done to protect the transaction from any liens and claims as part of the Tribune Co.’s separate Chapter 11 proceedings. The LLC is not expected to be held up in the bankruptcy for more than a few days.

 
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