WSJ: Tribune May Retain Half Of Chicago Cubs

(Reuters) – Newspaper publisher and broadcaster Tribune Co may end up holding 50 percent or more of its storied Chicago Cubs baseball franchise as the credit crunch stalled sales talks, the Wall Street Journal said.

In recent weeks, an early plan to sell a 95 percent stake has fallen to about half as suitors’ ability to buy the team and its stadium on Chicago’s North Side waned, the paper said citing two people involved in the negotiations.

On Thursday, bidders were preparing to receive a request to submit new purchase proposals with financing details, those people told the paper.

Tribune is selling assets to help pay down debt, which stood at $12.5 billion at the end of the second quarter. Declines in readership and advertising dollars at such newspapers as the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times have added to the pressure on the company to secure funds to avoid default.

Real estate magnate Sam Zell, who led the $8.2 billion buyout of Tribune Co last year, told CNBC last month that he expected to sell the Cubs before year end.

Tribune could not be immediately reached for comment.

(Reporting by Ajay Kamalakaran in Bangalore; Editing by Kazunori Takada)