Analyst suggests another potential Cubs bidder (Crain�s) � Throw another name onto the lengthening list of potential Cubs buyers.
Jeff Smulyan, a former Major League Baseball owner whose Emmis Communications Corp. owns two Chicago radio stations, was identified Monday as a possible Cubs bidder by an analyst who follows Indianapolis-based Emmis.
In a report, Credit Suisse analyst John Klim cited four factors that could make Mr. Smulyan �a very likely bidder� for the Cubs, including his long-standing interest in baseball, evidenced most recently by his failed effort last year to buy the Washington Nationals.
Mr. Smulyan, who owned the Seattle Mariners from 1989 to 1992, doesn�t rule out a bid � �I�ve learned in life to never say never� � but he says he isn�t pursuing the matter.
Mr. Klim, who is based in Atlanta, did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Mr. Smulyan�s reaction to his remarks.
Tribune Co.�s announcement last week that it would sell the Cubs after the end of this season triggered an avalanche of interest, plus a prediction that the Cubs could go for more than $1 billion, which would be a record for any sports franchise.
The sale will help pay down debt associated with the planned sale of Tribune to Sam Zell.
�While the Cubs will be leaving the Tribune family, long-term contracts are in place to ensure that Cubs programming will continue on WGN television and radio,� Tribune CEO Dennis FitzSimons wrote in a letter to shareholders.
In his report, Mr. Klim noted as other reasons for a bid from Mr. Smulyan: his past ownership of the Mariners, his proximity to Chicago and potential synergies between the Cubs and Emmis� two Chicago stations (WLUP-FM and WKQX-FM).
�A chance to purchase the Cubs is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,� Mr. Klim wrote, discounting market speculation that Mr. Smulyan was preparing a leveraged buyout offer for the publicly traded Emmis, whose stock has declined by more than 75% in the last six years.
�We believe Mr. Smulyan may be more interested in using his time, energy and personal capital to make a bid for the storied Chicago baseball franchise. . . .The opportunity to make a bid for a media company Mr. Smulyan already controls is not time-sensitive.�
In fact, says Mr. Smulyan of an Emmis bid, �That we are evaluating.�
As for the Mariners, he says, �We just couldn�t make it out there, and we sold it after a while to Nintendo.�