Tribune Co. is considering retaining a larger ownership stake in the Chicago Cubs, said sources involved in the deal, as the company explores options to sell the team amid the nation's worst financial conditions in decades.
With banks reluctant to make loans, Tribune Co. faces increasing risk of prospective buyers dropping out of the auction or being unable to close a deal in the next few months no matter how creditworthy they are. In addition, the higher costs of borrowing could trim the size of the bids.
To address some of the concerns, company officials have tossed out the idea of keeping more than 5 percent of the franchise, said three sources close to the bidding process. In this way, the buyer would have to come up with less cash but still gain controlling interest in the team. When lending markets open up, the buyer would have the option to buy Tribune Co.'s ownership interest.
"Things are very fluid right now," said a source close to one bidder, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the sales process is ongoing. "Tribune is looking for ways to get the deal done."
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