The family behind online brokerage TD Ameritrade looks set to acquire US baseball team the Chicago Cubs. The Ricketts' bid succeeded over competition from local real estate tycoon Hersch Klaff and New York private equity scions Leo Hindery and Marc Utay.
The Ricketts have offered present owners, Tribune Co, around $900 million, and the deal would put the Major League team, its Wrigley Field stadium and a stake in a regional sports network into the hands of Chicago financier Tom Ricketts - son of TD Ameritrade founder Joseph.
Major League baseball still has to approve the purchase and the family must close the deal within the next 60 to 90 days. According to reports citing sources close to the decision-making process, part of the reason for the Ricketts' success was that they were seen to be the most likely bidder to be able to successfully finance the deal.
Ricketts' offer included 50% of the price in cash, with the rest financed, whereas the other offers included more debt. If finalised, the deal will be the culmination of a two-year auction process complicated by the global financial crisis and the scarcity of financing during the credit crunch.
A sale to the Ricketts would also herald a return for the Cubs to family ownership. For 65 years the Wrigley family, founders of the chewing-gum company, owned the Cubs, selling them to the Tribune Co in 1981 for $20.5 million.
"My family and I are Cubs fans," said Tom Ricketts. "We share the goal of Cubs fans everywhere to win a World Series and build the consistent championship tradition that the fans deserve. "We look forward to working with the Tribune and Major League Baseball to close the transaction promptly."
According to reports, Major League Baseball are keen to close the deal and have the new owners in situ by the beginning of this year's season in April.
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